Deeptiman Tiwary & Akela/Mumbai Mirror
Mumbai, Jul 26: The extortion calls that director Raj Kumar Santoshi recently got from gangster Ejaz Lakdawala may not be purely extortion-related, after all.
Police investigations into the case have revealed that a well-known name from Bollywood, who has had a longstanding rivalry with Santoshi, may be behind the threats.
Santoshi lodged a complaint with Juhu police on Saturday last that he received a call from Lakdawala asking him to cough up Rs 5 crore.
The crime branch, which started a parallel probe in the case along with Juhu police, has now found that someone from the industry got the gangster to make the calls.
"Our investigations are still on, but it is a man from inside the industry," crime branch chief Rakesh Maria confirmed when asked who was behind the calls. He, however, refused to say anything further.
A crime branch officer who did not wish to be named said that threat calls from Lakdawala received by the director in 2007 may also have been engineered by the same person. "It is an old tiff between the two," the officer said.
The revelation has not only revived memories of the nineties, when extortion calls from gangland were a norm in Bollywood, but has brought to the fore the infighting within the industry and how deeply entrenched the underworld is in Bollywood.
This is also not the first time allegations of a film personality using the underworld to threaten another have surfaced.
A few Bollywood biggies have also faced police action for having allegedly used underworld money to make films.
Crime branch sources said Santoshi in fact got fresh threat calls from Lakdawala after the media reported on the recent extortion calls.
The gangster reportedly called him thrice in a day at his Yari Road office, threatening that he would have to "pay" for going to the police.
An officer said the gangster told him, "Bahut letter likh raha hai. Bahut interview de raha hai. Antim bar kah raha hoon, ab us layak nahi rahega."
Sources said one of the calls was taken by a police officer himself who was present in Santoshi's office.
Police have recorded Santosh's statement about the three calls.