SSR death case: I am innocent, being subjected to witch-hunt, Rhea Chakraborty says in bail plea

News Network
September 23, 2020

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Mumbai, Sept 23: Actress Rhea Chakraborty, arrested in a drugs case related to actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, has said in her bail plea filed in the Bombay High Court that she is innocent and NCB is "deliberately" trying to invoke stringent charges against her and her family.

She also said that she has been subjected to a "witch-hunt".

In her bail application filed in the HC on Tuesday, Chakraborty said she is just 28 years of age, and besides the probe by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), she has been subjected to three more investigations by police and central agencies, and a "simultaneous media trial".

These probes refer to the ones conducted into Rajput's death by the Mumbai Police, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Chakraborty said all of this has taken a "severe toll on her mental health and well being".

Any further custody will worsen her mental health, she said in her plea filed through her counsel Satish Maneshinde.

Her bail plea was scheduled to be heard by a single bench presided over by Justice Sarang Kotwal on Wednesday.

However, since the High Court suspended the day's hearings owing to heavy rains in the city, the plea is likely to be heard on Thursday.

Chakraborty further said in her plea that Rajput had been in the habit of consuming drugs, particularly, "ganja" since even before she got into a relationship with him.

While she would sometimes procure drugs for him in "small quantities", and would also "occasionally pay for them herself," she was in no way a part of any drug syndicate.

She also said Rajput was the only one who was consuming the said drugs.

"The applicant (Chakraborty) is innocent and has not committed any crime whatsoever," the plea said.

She also said in her plea that she has been subjected to a "witch-hunt," and after the CBI and the ED failed to gather any evidence against her, the NCB was "brought in to somehow implicate her and her family".

Chakraborty has been booked by the NCB on several charges, including financing illicit trafficking of drugs under Section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act.

Section-27 A brings along a bar on the grant of bail to an accused.

The actor said she has been wrongly booked under the NDPS Act Section 27-A.

Besides, since no drugs were seized from her possession and since the NCB has managed to seize only 59 grams of drugs from all accused persons, the bar on grant of bail cannot be applied to her, she said in the plea.

The actress said a bar on grant of bail can come into play only if the drugs seized are in commercial quantities.

Last week, a similar argument was made by lawyers of Samuel Miranda and Dipesh Sawant, co-accused in the case, before a bench of Justice Kotwal.

Justice Kotwal had then pointed out that a plain reading of the NDPS Act showed Section 27-A could be imposed irrespective of the quantum of drugs recovered by the NCB.

He had, however, directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who represent the NCB in the high court, to clarify the same on September 29, the next date of hearing on the bail pleas of Miranda and others.

Chakraborty said some others accused in the case had faced identical allegations, but they had not been booked under the stringent Section 27-A.

She also said that at best, she can be accused of having procured drugs in small amounts for her boyfriend.

However, she was trying her best to wean Rajput off his habit of consuming drugs, the actress said.

Besides, if Rajput was alive today, he would have been charged merely for consumption of drugs and would have invited a maximum sentence of just one year, while she has been charged under sections imposing a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, Chakraborty said in the plea.

On a similar argument last week on the other pleas, Justice Kotwal pointed out that the NDPS Act adopts an "empathetic approach" towards the drug addict with view towards his rehabilitation.

However, it aims at ending all illicit trafficking of drugs and therefore, carries stringent punishment for those involved in procurement, financing and production of drugs.

Earlier this month,a special NDPS court in the city rejected the bail pleas of the actress and her brother Showik Chakraborty, saying if let out on bail, they might tamper with the evidence.

The actress is currently lodged in the Byculla women's prison in the city.

Rajput (34) was found hanging in his home in suburban Bandra on June 14.

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News Network
October 28,2020

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Panaji, Oct 28: The Goa government on Wednesday asked filmmaker Karan Johar's Dharma Productions to tender an apology for "littering" at a village in the state during a film shoot recently and said that if the company fails to do so, a fine would be imposed on it.

A controversy has erupted after residents of Nerul in North Goa uploaded videos showing the waste, allegedly generated by the crew of an upcoming Deepika Padukone-starrer film, dumped in their village after the shooting got over last week.

After the issue was highlighted on social media, the state-run Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the lines producer hired by Dharma Productions.

Talking to reporters, Goa's Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo on Wednesday said the director or owners of Dharma Productions should apologise to the people of the state for littering the place and leaving it without cleaning it.

"Tender an apology on Facebook that it was an error and accept the fault. If they don't do it, we will find them. My department will impose a fine on Dharma Productions," he said.

Actor Kangana Ranaut took to Twitter to lash out at the film production houses for the "irresponsible behaviour".

"Movie industry is not a virus just for the moral fibre n culture of this nation but it has become very destructive and harmful for the environment also, @PrakashJavdekar ji @moefccAsee this disgusting, filthy, irresponsible behaviour by so-called big production houses, pls help," she said in the tweet.

Meanwhile, Dilip Borkar, the lines producer hired by the production house, said that the movie was shot in a villa in Nerul.

"The garbage collected daily after the shoot was dumped at a site designated by the local panchayat. It was regularly collected by the contractor except on Sunday when it kept lying there and videos of it were shot and uploaded on social media," he added.

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News Network
October 25,2020

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Ayodhya, Oct 25: Organisers of the Ayodhya Ramlila being shown on different media platforms claimed that the number of their viewers has crossed the 10-crore mark.

The nine-day Ramlila is being telecast from the Laxman Qila, a temple situated on the banks of the Saryu river here. It is being performed by Bollywood stars and actor-turned politicians.

It is being shown in 14 languages, including Urdu.

Subhash Malik, director of the Ram Lila, said Ayodhya has now another record in its name as the viewership of the Ramlila being shown on Doordarshan, YouTube and other social media platforms has crossed 10 crore.

"We hope that it will double up by the time we finish the telecast," he added.

Due to the coronavirus protocol, people are not allowed to watch the performance at the venue.

LED screens have been installed at different places and mobile vans have been sent to remote areas in villages to make watch the enactment of the epic.

Around 120 crew members from Mumbai and 85 artistes are involved in the enactment with a 55-member Doordarshan team filming it from nine different angles.

This Ramlila had started on October 17 and will finish on October 25 with the “Ravana dahan”.

“For this, a 100-ft-tall effigy of Ravana is being prepared," Subhash Malik said.

"We have sent an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the chief guest on this occasion,” he said.

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News Network
October 20,2020

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Mumbai, Oct 20: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan has many fond memories of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), which completed 25 years on Tuesday, but what stands out the most is how the film built his romantic hero image as the actor says he never felt he could pull of a character like that on the screen.

Directed by then debutant Aditya Chopra, son of veteran filmmaker Yash Chopra, DDLJ cemented Shah Rukh's image as the ‘King of Romance’ in Bollywood.

“Raj was unlike anything I had done. Before DDLJ, there was Darr, Baazigar, Anjaam -- films in which I had portrayed negative characters. Also, I always felt that I wasn’t cut out to play any romantic type of character.

"So, when I was presented with the opportunity by Adi and Yash (Chopra) ji of essaying the role, I was excited to work with him but had no idea how to go about it and also if I would be able to do it well,” Shah Rukh said in a statement shared by production banner Yash Raj Films (YRF).

The 54-year-old actor actor said people can see a glimpse of his real self in Raj, particularly in his sense of humour, which the actor borrowed from his own life.

“Actually, I always felt Adi’s love for me made him cast me. I found the character endearing and sweet in the right way -- the over-the-topness is my contribution.

"It was one of those roles that I realised can do with me using a version of my real self so you might see some quirks, habits and mannerisms that were true to my off-screen persona, especially the sense of humour part.”

Though Shah Rukh and Kajol had tasted success as a pair with Baazigar in 1993, it was DDLJ which immortalised them as the ultimate on-screen romantic couple.

DDLJ, the acronym that the film is known by today, shattered box office records at the time and was the only film to be still running in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir until recently when Covid-19 forced cinema halls to close in March.

Widely credited for changing the grammar of Hindi cinema, the movie, according to YRF, was made at a budget of Rs 4 crore and in 1995 it collected Rs 89 crore in India and Rs 13.50 crore in overseas markets, a total collection of Rs 102.50 crore worldwide.

In today’s inflation adjusted value, the film's collection stands at a staggering Rs 455 crore in India and Rs 69 crore in overseas territories, taking the total worldwide collections to Rs 524 crore, the production house said.

At that time, Shah Rukh recalled, he had been told that he looked unconventional, different from the leading heroes of that era, which made him sceptical about saying all the romantic dialogues in the movie.

“I was told by many people that I looked unconventional -- very different from what the perception of a leading man was. I did feel, maybe, not being handsome enough -- or as they called it then ‘chocolaty’ would make me unsuitable for romantic roles. Also, I am very shy and awkward with ladies, and I didn’t know how I would say all the loving, romantic bits,” he said.

“I have to admit, for someone who doesn’t like mushy, romantic films, the scenes with Kajol and I did make me feel all fuzzy and warm. There, I said it!” the actor said.

Shah Rukh also revealed he never changes the radio channel when a DDLJ song comes on.

"I can never get sick of them. They bring back memories of a film that shaped my path forward in an unforgettable way,” he said of the songs penned by the late Anand Bakshi and composed by Jatin-Lalit.

The train sequence ending of DDLJ is as iconic as the film, inspiring many imitations in Bollywood and elsewhere but Shah Rukh said he had no clue it will become so famous while they were shooting it.

“There could have been no other ending, but I did not think it would be as iconic as it eventually turned out to be.”

The actor said DDLJ brought him fame in a way that he didn’t think it would.

“We were all living in the moment, trying to make the best film we could. There are so many reasons attributed to its success, but I don’t think any one specific thing can explain the phenomenon it has become. I think all the success is to be credited to the pure heart with which the film was made by Adi, Yashji, and the entire cast and crew -- and my non-existent ‘good looks’,” he said.

Thanks to the film, Shah Rukh said he could no longer rely on his “unconventional” looks to play different roles.

“As for perception, I always felt that I can play more unconventional roles because of my looks, but DDLJ has belied that and I still struggle to make that one macho unconventional... character which suits me, or so I thought, but its been a struggle to not be considered romantic and sweet for the last 25 years -- a struggle, I guess, I am happy to lose.”

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