| Nandita Das, who acts in Kagaar, in front of the film’s poster in Mumbai. (Reuters)
Mumbai, Oct. 23: Ab tak do.
Mumbai police’s poster boy Daya Nayak, the “encounter specialist” and the role model for Ram Gopal Verma’s Ab Tak Chhappan, has been sucked into a fresh scandal on the eve of the scheduled release of another flick that celebrates his exploits with the gun.
A politician today charged Nayak with using chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s name to carry on his “underworld-related activities” and claimed to have an audiotape that carries questionable references to Mumbai’s most famous crime-buster. The allegation came exactly a week after a journalist burst into a court and sought to link the cop to the underworld.
In a tell-tale coincidence, the release of Kagaar — Living on the Edge, set for a pre-Diwali opening tomorrow, has been postponed. The film, directed by . Chandra, will now hit the theatres on October 31, as “there are too many other releases slotted for tomorrow”, claimed Amitabh Dayal, who is making his debut as the fictional Nayak.
Janata Dal (Secular) national general secretary Mohammad Rafiq Shaikh, who has sent to the chief minister an audiotape purportedly containing a recorded conversation between underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s deputy Fahim Machmach and a city-based businessman R.C. Agarwal, said Nayak’s name crops up in it often as a “friend”.
Agarwal, initially charged by the police with trying to hire Machmach to bump off rival businessman Tejpal Singh, is rumoured to have left Mumbai.
Quoting from the transcript in a letter to Shinde, Shaikh said Nayak was using the chief minister’s name to bail out Agarwal, saying the orders to let Agarwal go had come from the “very top”.
“The police informer who taped the conversation gave me a copy of the audio cassette, which I immediately sent to the chief minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bombay High Court, Mumbai police commissioner R.S. Sharma, the human rights commission and former chief justice Ranganat Mishra,” Shaikh said. He was present when the informer taped the conversations on September 9 and again on September 12, he added.
Last Thursday, Ketan Tirodkar, a former crime reporter, barged into Bombay High Court and spoke at length about what he alleged were Nayak’s close ties with the underworld.
Tirodkar said in his petition that the officer was close to elements in the Karachi- and Dubai-based underworld and had executed business deals on their behalf.
In the startling courtroom drama, Tirodkar said he was ready to go to jail — “be it for even 15 years” — for his own links with the underworld but Nayak should not be spared either.
The sensational case will come up before the high court on November 3. Tirodkar, who agrees he worked for the underworld, has been given police protection.
Nayak has categorically rubbished both claims.
He countered that it was the former journalist who was a Dawood man and said Tirodkar and the others were trying to malign him and Mumbai police. The police department has filed a counter affidavit against Tirodkar in the high court.
As Nayak gets dragged into legal cases, the fate of Kagaar seems uncertain. “It was to be released this Friday but for some reason the release has been delayed,” said Amil Solkar, Tirodkar’s lawyer.
A glamourised portrayal of the cop would have influenced judgment, he argued, pointing out that they would have pleaded against the release in any case.
Dayal, the debutant, plays the lead role of a fearless, tough cop in the movie that is inspired “60 per cent” by Nayak’s life.
Varma’s Ab Tak Chhappan (56 and Counting) — the figure plays on the number of gangsters Nayak is said to have gunned down — casts Nana Patekar and newcomer Hrishita Bhatt.
Kagaar, also starring Nandita Das, is based on real-life encounters, “fictionalised and dramatised for obvious artistic reasons”, said Dayal, who is waiting for the release like “nothing else”.
While Dayal waits, Shaikh plans to go to Delhi next week and pass the tape to top CBI officials and file a petition in Delhi High Court. Before that, he will also move Bombay High Court.
The Dal (S) leader states that all he wants is the cop-underworld nexus to come out in the open, but chuckles “you should have seen the chief minister’s expression when he heard about the tape and that his name was being used”.
Shaikh has written another letter to Shinde, thanking him for “promptly calling the police commissioner” after hearing from him. He said he has met the commissioner, who asked senior inspector Pradeep Sharma to take custody of the tape and other documents.