Mumbai’s entertainment business is on the radar of the law enforcement agencies and also attracts a disproportionate level of interest from the national media. The lesser-known Punjabi and Bhojpuri industries, as a result, stay under the radar. Sidhu Moosewala’s murder, though, has shown that these industries are not immune to the murky business of extortion and killings.
Making this observation, B.V. Kumar, former DG of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and author of ‘DRI and The Dons’ (Konark; 2019), said the underworld is now also intertwined with the entertainment world because of the drug culture, which got exposed in the investigations following the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Kumar said in conversation with IANS: “Recent developments, which are well-documented and have been reported extensively in the print and electronic media, indicate that cocaine and Ecstasy (Methamphetamine) are the preferred drugs among people in high places, the rich and the film stars — when they desire something more than money and women to get that extra ‘kick’. That is how film stars get attracted to Ecstasy once they make it to the big league.”
Kumar, incidentally, is a former DG of the Narcotics Control Bureau. Investigative agencies in Hyderabad and Bengaluru have revealed that drug abuse is rampant in the South Indian film industry as well. The narcotics business is the new link between people in the entertainment business and the underworld.
Spelling out how the underworld and the entertainment business got intertwined, Kumar said it is a well-known fact that the enormous amount of money that was generated in the smuggling of gold and other contraband was being used by Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar to invest in the production of movies, particularly by Bollywood producers.
“The money muscle was also being used to dictate to producers which actors/actresses should be cast in the movies that were being financed by him,” Kumar said. “It was not uncommon, in the days when he was based in Dubai, for Dawood to summon the producers and the actors/actresses to Dubai either to settle the profits generated by a movie, or entirely for his personal entertainment,” he added.
“A similar modus operandi was being followed by other smuggling syndicates based in Dubai. His operatives based in Mumbai were also extorting protection money from well-established film stars,” Kumar pointed out.
Dawood now lives in Karachi, but he still remotely controls his D-Company, which consists of about 2,000 operatives, Kumar noted.
“He’s known to be involved in match-fixing and extortion, in the global heroin trade,” Kumar said. “He is worth an estimated $6.7 billion. It is well-documented that money generated in serious crime, including drug trafficking, is redeployed to areas where the returns are high. These include movie production. A successful movie can yield hundreds of crores within a week of its release.”
Money from tainted sources continues to flow into the entertainment business, according to Kumar. “It was an open secret in the 1990s that Dawood was actively involved in the entertainment industry,” he said.
“At present, it is done clandestinely through sophisticated money laundering operations and through hawala. Most of the movies today are produced by different entities, and not by a single producer. This makes it difficult to pinpoint where the money generated through crime is being channelled,” Kumar added.