The cozy relationship between the Indian mafia and the film industry appears to be symbiotic on the surface. Indian film stars openly flaunt their organized crime connections, and Bollywood’s A-list celebrities routinely attend lavish, well-publicized parties around the world. At the same time, however, these links have proven deadly for the industry’s most notable members.
While India’s most powerful underworld bosses like Dawood Ibrahim and Abu Salem will celebrate with Bollywood’s most distinguished members at a particular party, they will for sure extort them in the next. Extorting Bollywood’s cinema elite is among the most profitable activities for the underworld. Organized crime groups ruthlessly target and even kill some of the industry’s most prominent directors, producers and even film stars that are reluctant to pay exorbitant extortion amounts.
The real story dates back to as old as India is. The country’s original don, Haji Mastan, produced films starring his woman to promote her dismal cinematic career. The origins of this lucrative and appealing relationship is due to a government regulation that rendered the cinema industry ineligible for legitimate forms of financing. Film producers, directors and actors were compelled to find alternate forms of financing, often from mafia families.
While the law was amended in 2000 to allow the film industry to qualify for bank credit, but by that time the clutches of the underworld were quite nabbing on Bollywood and their leverage was quite pervasive. In many instances, filmmakers and celebrities had decided to continue to accept underworld financing whether they wanted to or not.
Getting back to the actual question: Is it really extorting, though? Is anyone really immune to the charms of the industry? The hype and ubiquity around Bollywood, topped with 2bn in yearly revenues (that’s 2/3 of the global sales) will make you want to grab a piece of this beguiling pie.
Also, because Bollywood makes you question your identity. With its affective aesthetics, delectable narratives and ensemble starcasts, Bollywood takes on the authority of the third parent. By redefining the norms, breaking down biases and introducing us to varied perspectives it expands our minds in making us re-evaluate our approaches to life.
It is constantly re-inventing itself, mirroring the changes in our society. The voice of the cinema has become more vibrant, vocal and powerful than before because of tech advancements and has a far reaching impact. That's why its so alluring!