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The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"All the usual ingredients of a typical Indian film"
 real 56k

Friday, 15 December, 2000, 18:21 GMT
Underworld scandal rocks Bollywood
still from Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
Hush Hush: the underworld influence in Bollywood
By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

Indian police have questioned the 'King of Bollywood' over alleged links with the underworld, as they launch a massive clean-up of Bombay's film industry.

Bombay police questioned producer and film financier, Bharat Shah on Friday.

Bharat Shah
Bharat Shah: Known as the 'King of Bollywood'

The joint commissioner of Bombay police , D Shivanandan, says Mr Shah financed the now controversial film "Chori Chori Chupke Chupke" (Hush Hush) with underworld money.

The film's producer, Nazeem Hasan Rizvi, was arrested on Wednesday.

Mr Rizvi is alleged to have links with Chhota Shakeel, a renowned underworld boss, who is wanted in connection with several cases including a series of bombings in Bombay in 1993.

The police are expected to question more Bollywood stars over the next few days.

Shah has 'nothing to hide'

The police believe that Bharat Shah was involved in the transfer of underworld money to finance Mr Rizvi's film.

I have nothing to hide. Let them probe the source of my funds. I wholeheartedly welcome it

Bharat Shah
Mr Shah has denied the charge and said he is willing to co-operate with any investigation.

"I have nothing to hide. Let them probe the source of my funds. I wholeheartedly welcome it, " he said.

Mr Rizvi was appeared in a special court on Thursday and has been remanded in custody until 27 December.

He has been charged with plotting to kill several top Bollywood personalities and using slush money to finance "Chori Chori Chupke Chupke" which is due for release next Friday.

The police have submitted 25 cassettes of recorded telephone conversations between Mr Shakeel and Mr Rizvi to the court.

Big clean-up

Meanwhile Commissioner Shivanandan told the BBC the police may question some other top Indian film stars in the next few days over with the Bollywood-underworld connection.

Though he mentioned no names, police sources say those likely to be questioned are some of the biggest names in Bollywood.

The police are also understood to be investigating the connection between a senior governing party leader in Delhi with Mr Rizvi.

Bollywood in shock

The Indian film industry is in shock as the scandal hits the front pages of Indian newspapers.

"The matter should be fully investigated and truth must be established once and for all.

"Those with an underworld connection should be dealt with severely but there should be no witch hunting," said Mahesh Bhatt, a well-known Indian filmmaker.

The state home minister, Chagan Bhujbal, told a meeting of lawmakers in the western state of Maharashtra Wednesday that all efforts will be made to smash the film industry-underworld nexus.

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