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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 05:14 GMT 06:14 UK
Bollywood film upsets 'gangster'
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Abu Salem
Salem was extradited to India from Portugal last year
One of India's most wanted men has demanded that a Bollywood movie he says is based on his life should not be released while he is facing trial.

Lawyers for Abu Salem are appealing in a court in the western city of Mumbai (Bombay) to try to block the release of the film, Gangster.

The film's producer says it is a work of fiction not based on Salem's life.

Salem was extradited from Portugal last year and is a suspect in the Mumbai blasts of 1993 that killed 250 people.

Other cases of murder, kidnapping and extortion are also pending against him.

On Saturday, a Mumbai court rejected Salem's petition on technical grounds. But his lawyer says he will now approach the high court.

'Trial by media'

The legal move came after their client read reports that it was based on his life. Salem's lawyer, Ashok Sarogi, said if the movie were released while the trial was going on, it could adversely influence his client's case.

My client will be tried and sentenced by the masses and the media long before the court does
Lawyer Ashok Sarogi

"If something is dramatised and shown on silver screen then the masses do get affected," he told the BBC.

"Investigation in my client's case is still going on and if a movie is released then it could influence the witnesses who are to be questioned."

"My client will be tried and sentenced by the masses and the media long before the court does."

But Mr Sarogi also said he had asked the court to view the film and if it believed that it was not based on his client's life, then they should permit it to be released.


But the film's producer, Mahesh Bhatt, has denied the allegation.

I would never pass a judgement on a person before the last word is given
Director Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt says he has received a notice from Salem's lawyer and he has replied saying they were "misinformed".

"My film Gangster is a work of fiction and it is not a story of a gangster but a story of a bar girl who is in love with two people, one an ordinary, simple man and the other, a gangster," he told the BBC.

"The character of the gangster is not even remotely connected with Salem or any of his biographic details that are known to me or throughout the world."

Mr Bhatt also said he would be "delighted" if someone saw the film as soon as possible and put Abu Salem's fears to rest.

"I would never pass a judgement on a person before the last word is given.

"I think the man is right to be looked upon as innocent until pronounced guilty and with this belief cannot make a film that calls him a gangster. And I have not done that, this film is not about Salem."

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