The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Don Abu fumes at Gangster

Calcutta, April 9: Abu Salem is angry: how can Bollywood brand him a “gangster” before Bombay High Court does'

The extradited don sent a notice to producer Mahesh Bhatt on Friday asking him to stall the release of his film Gangster as he feels the title character is based on him.

With Bhatt dubbing the notice as “baseless”, Salem’s lawyers have threatened to move court tomorrow. They believe that the release of the movie, slated for an end-April date, will not only damage the don’s reputation but also hamper the pending cases under investigation.

Not new to controversies, Bhatt has maintained that Gangster is a pure work of fiction and has nothing to do Salem’s life. “They are merely assuming on the basis of a newspaper article,” the filmmaker told The Telegraph.

“Like in all movies, I have run a disclaimer in the beginning of the film that it is not based on any person living or dead. But still, if the court wants to take a look at the film, I am more than willing to show it.”

Gangster, directed by Anurag Basu, tells the story of a bar dancer Simran (newcomer Kangana) who falls in love with a gangster named Daya Shankar (Shiney Ahuja) but drifts away from him because of his underworld links. They come face to face again later in the script when Simran has already settled down with another man (Emraan Hashmi).

“If you compare the two characters, there is not an iota of similarity between them,” claimed Bhatt.

“In the film, Daya Shankar is born in Kashmir while Abu Salem is originally from Uttar Pradesh. Then, Daya’s character is a shooter while Salem is not known for hands-on criminal activities. Most importantly, we launched our film in September last year and Salem was only deported to India in November.”

Director Basu had, however, earlier told The Telegraph: “The Abu Salem-Monica Bedi love story was the germ of the idea for the film. The main aspect of the relationship that I want to capture is how the gangster’s love turns out to be a problem for him.

“The international police are after him and she is turning out to be a burden for him. Yet, he doesn’t want to let her go.”

So, if the Gangster teasers of Shiney and Kangana running from law enforcement agencies look straight out of newspaper reports of Salem and Bedi escaping the police in the US and then in Portugal, it is not a coincidence. “It’s just a situation and a situation is not a story,” is Bhatt’s argument.

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