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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 19:04 GMT
Bollywood producer in underworld scandal
Bollywood posters
Millions of dollars are spent on producing Bollywood films
By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

Police in India say they have arrested a film producer and are questioning him about the alleged use of underworld money in financing his new film.

Police officials in Bombay said the director, Nazim Rizvi, was in detention and would appear in court on Thursday.

The police said they were taking action to halt the release of the film, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Hush Hush) scheduled for later this month.

The film - Mr Rizvi's first major project - features several leading Indian Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta.

The police also allege that Mr Rizvi plotted to kill some prominent film personalities.

They say the film producer is linked to underworld boss, Chhota Shakeel.

Notorious gangsters

Shakeel is a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim, one of Bombay underworld's most feared gangsters, who is now reportedly based in Karachi.

Both Shakeel and Ibrahim are wanted in connection with a number of cases, including the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts.

The police say Mr Rizvi used his underworld connections to threaten other film personalities and secure dates from top film stars.

A case against the film producer has been registered under the Maharashtra organised crime act, which entitles the police to hold the trial in a special criminal court.

'In shock'

"The whole industry is in a state of shock," said Taran Adarsh, editor of Trade Guide, a leading Bollywood trade magazine.

"We do not know what to say. It's an unfortunate incident, which brings the spotlight back on the alleged links of Bollywood film producers and the underworld, " he said.

While the underworld-Bollywood link has been suspected for some time, this is the first time a film producer has been arrested on suspicion of gangster connections.

The financial muscle of the underworld in Bollywood came to the fore when underworld bosses decided to play the role of arbiter in internal Bollywood rivalries.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | South Asia
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