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Stars in the dock

IndiaGlitz [Tuesday, March 26, 2013]

On March 21, the Supreme Court upheld  Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's conviction by the TADA court, in the  illegal arms case . He had procured  a 9mm pistol and a AK-56 rifle, both of which were part of a consignment of weapons and explosives used in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai in which 257 people  were killed . The apex court only reduced the TADA court  term by a year and handed Dutt a  five year imprisonment . 

Also facing the heat in court are Bollywood  actors Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam for allegedly shooting a black buck in Jodhpur in 1998, while shooting in that city.  On March 23, a local court in Jodhpur framed charges against them, and the trial will begin  on April 27. In March 2011, award winning actor Shiney Ahuja was sentenced to seven years in jail in a molestation case.

Like Bollywood  actors, a number of Tamil stars too  have been in the dock , and served prison sentences. The earliest case,  which generated a lot of buzz and ended in prison term for popular stars  is of course the Lakshmikanthan murder case, in which the top star MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar (MKT)  and leading comedian  NS Krishnan  (NSK) were charged and sent to jail. Lakshmikanthan, a tabloid journalist, who spared none in his salacious stories, was hospitalised  after  he was attacked on 8 November , 1944 . However, he did not name anyone . Next day he was found dead in the hospital. MKT, the reigning superstar of that time and NSK  and a few others were charged with the murder  and sent to prison. Their successive appeals finally ended in their acquittal by the Privy Council, just ahead of India's Independence. Both MKT and NSK never regained their lost glory.

The one case Kollywood fans will never forget is the one in which MR Radha shot MGR. In January 1967, MR Radha was in a discussion on a film with MGR and reports say he suddenly pulled a gun and aiming it at MGR's ear, pulled the trigger twice. He then turned the gun on himself. Both the stars went to the hospital, and were treated. MGR never regained his original voice, since he bullet had lodged in his throat, and MR Radha never regained the commanding position he enjoyed in tinsel town.

Like Bollywood, Kollywood too has had its  cases of passion. In 2001, actor Mansoor Ali Khan was sentenced to seven years in prison after a woman filed sexual assault case against him based on an incident on December 8, 1996. In 2007, he was acquitted of charges after he agreed to compensate the woman. However , the case took a curious turn, and in 2012, the Madras High Court  found the woman guilty of perjury and malicious persecution and ordered her to compensate Khan. 

The Tamil industry on occasion witnesses cases of cheating, wherein complainants are known to lodge complaints with the Commissioner of Police. 'Power Star' Srinivasan was convicted in one such case. Businessman GU Balasubramanian alleged that he had paid Srinivasan  Rs 65 lakh  as commission charges for getting  him  a loan of Rs 10 crore, but the actor had failed to secure the said loan amount. Srinivasan was remanded in judicial custody and sent to Puzhal prison. 

Actor-director Seeman is probably the only actor to have been arrested by foreign authorities. In November 2009, he was arrested and deported from Canada by the Canadian immigration officials who said he made inflammatory speeches during his tour.  Media reports, citing witnesses,  said that during his speech in Toronto, Seeman talked about restarting the civil war in Sri Lanka.

A video of his speech showed that a flag bearing the  emblem of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, was displayed  in the room. The Tigers are a banned terrorist organization under Canadian law. In September 2011, Seeman who is also founder of the 'Naam Thamizhar Iyakkam' was arrested for holding a rally seeking the commutation of death sentences of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

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