Three Bollywood stars — Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan — were grilled by India's narcotics control authority in Mumbai on Saturday, in a drugs probe linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
While Deepika was interrogated by the Narcotics Control Bureau at a guest house in Mumbai's Colaba area for a good six hours, Shraddha and Sara were questioned separately by the sleuths at the agency's Ballard Estate office.
"All of them were questioned on the contents of WhatsApp chats retrieved from the mobile phone of Sushant's actress-girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, which indicated they used drugs," an official told UNB.
"Though Shraddha and Sara have denied consuming drugs, they claimed to have seen umpteen times Sushant taking drugs in his vanity van and during shooting breaks," he said.
Apart from the three actors, Deepika's manager Karishma Prakash was also grilled on Saturday, for the second day in a row. "On Friday, actor Rakul Preet Singh was questioned and she had also denied taking drugs during questioning," the official added.
A day before, leading Bollywood celebrity designer Simone Khambatta was also grilled in the case that has captivated and polarised India in recent months.
The Narcotics Control Bureau, in fact, widened its probe into the drugs scandal after WhatsApp chats retrieved from Rhea's mobile phone apparently revealed that at least 20 Bollywood celebrities procured banned substances like cannabis, weed and hash from dealers with links to foreign countries.
Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Karan Johar has released a statement in which he again clarified that no narcotic substances were consumed at the party he had hosted in 2019, which was attended by a number of big names from Bollywood.
Rhea was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau on September 9, following days of questioning, in connection with the death of 34-year-old Sushant Singh, whose body was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his Mumbai flat on June 14.
Also read: Bollywood star Deepika quizzed in drug probe
India’s narcotics agency on Saturday questioned top Bollywood star Deepika Padukone in a drug probe, reports AP.
The agency is probing the movie industry’s links with drug peddlers and cartels.
Deepika arrived at the Narcotics Control Board's office in Mumbai after receiving summons earlier this week while on a shooting stint in the western beach resort of Goa.
Media reports say no drugs have been seized from her.
The board said in a statement that it started the Bollywood drug probe after the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whose body was found at his Mumbai residence in June.
An investigation is ongoing over the death.
According to the local media, Padukone was reportedly being questioned on whether she procured banned drugs for consumption following interception of phone messages making queries with local contacts.
She is one of more than a dozen people working with the Hindi movie industry who have been questioned by the board in the past two weeks.
Deepika’s manager Karishma Prakash was questioned on Friday and two other Bollywood actors are expected to be queried on Saturday.
A top Bollywood filmmaker, Karan Johar, said in a statement Friday that allegations of narcotics being consumed at a party hosted by him in July last year at his residence were “false and baseless."
Johar’s response came after an old video from a star-studded party at his residence surfaced on social media.
Terming distasteful Actor Anushka Sharma has sharply criticised the controversial comment made by former cricketer and commentator Sunil Gavaskar on her and cricketer husband Virat Kohli, reports Indian media.
Former Indian International cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, on Thursday made an unsavoury comment on the two after Virat’s Royal Challengers Bangalore lost to Kings XI Punjab on Thursday and the captain showed lack of form, reports Hindustan Times.
The match between the two teams saw the Virat and his team suffer a huge 97-run defeat. The RCB skipper dropped his KXIP counterpart KL Rahul twice and the right-hander went on to score an unbeaten 132 off just 69 balls.
Post Virat failing to deliver with the bat, Gavaskar said, "Inhone lockdown me toh bas Anushka ki gendon ki practice ki hai."
The commentator went on to say that facing Anushka's delivery is not going to help him, while referring to the following video, where the couple was seeing enjoying some gully cricket, reports Times of India.
Taking to Instagram stories, she wrote: “That, Mr Gavaskar, your message is distasteful is a fact but I would love for you to explain why you thought of making such a sweeping statement on a wife accusing her for her husband’s game? I’m sure over the years you have respected the private lives of every cricketer while commentating on the game. Don’t you thing you should have equal amount of respect for me and us?”
“I’m sure you can have many other words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband’s performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my name in the process?”
The Instagram post also reads “It’s 2020 and things still don’t change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements? Respected Mr Gavaskar, you are a legend whose name stands tall in this gentleman’s game. Just wanted to tell you what I felt when I heard you say this.”
The comment by Gavaskar had not gone down well with fans of Virat online.
Amid calls to the BCCI to remove Gavaskar from the commentary panel, an earlier statement by Anushka, issued to dismiss claims of favouritism and the tasteless trolling, was brought back by internet.
Reacting to Sharma's Instagram post, Gavasker told a TV channel, "Firstly, I would like to say again, where am I blaming her? I am not blaming her. I am only saying that the video said that she was bowling to Virat. So Virat has played only that bowling in this lockdown period. It is a tennis ball, you know one game that people have to pass time during the lockdown. That's all. So where am I blaming her for Virat's failures?"
Both Gavaskar's comments and Anushka's reaction have triggered a fresh debate online.
While cricket fans said that he did not mean it in the way it has been taken and that his comments have been taken out of context, there are others who say that there was no need to bring up Anushka's name at all, especially given the fact that she has in the past, been at the receiving end of a barrage of hate targeting her for Virat's poor performance.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) has recently taken a special initiative to collect and preserve Bangladeshi folklore works in Dhaka division.
The project has already started exploring folk songs and lyrics in Manikganj and will continue in seven other districts under Dhaka division (Dhaka, Narshindi, Narayanganj, Tangail, Gazipur, Kishoreganj and Munshiganj), BSA said.
Initially, 4,500 songs and lyrics by seven lyricists will be collected under the under 'Folklore Collection and Preservation Project 2020'. Of them, 450 are already completed songs and the rest are only lyrics without tunes, voiceovers and musical compositions.
The lyricists are - Rashid Sarkar, Saidur Rahman Boyati, Dewan Rashid, Voba Pagla, Gowhar Shah, Kanu Shah and Yab Alam Al Chishti.
Baul, Bhatiali, Bhawaiya, Gombhira, Jari, Shari, Shyama, and Kobi Gaan are some of the most unique style of Bengali traditional folk songs.
The BSA previously took a similar initiative in 2016 to preserve them.
It said it collected 13,481 folk songs from 21 districts (eight in Rangpur division, five in greater Faridpur, six in greater Mymensingh, Sunamganj in Sylhet and Jhenaidah in Khulna) and submitted to the National Archive during that year's project.
Legendary Indian playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital in the southern city of Chennai on Friday at the age of 74.
SPB, as he was fondly called, died of a cardio-respiratory arrest at 1:04pm (IST), the MGM Healthcare hospital announced in a medical bulletin.
The celebrated singer was under treatment at the hospital for nearly two months after contracting Covid.
He has crooned more than 40,000 songs in 16 languages in a career spanning over five decades,
"SPB belongs to everyone. He will live on in his songs," his son SP Charan told the media in Chennai.
As news of his death broke, tributes flooded the social media. "Devastated," Oscar winning singer-composer AR Rahman tweeted.
"Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Balasubrahmanyam ji. Just a few months back I’d interacted with him during a virtual concert in this lockdown... he seemed hale, hearty & his usual legendary self...life is truly unpredictable. My thoughts & prayers with his family," Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar tweeted.
Others who expressed condolences included Bollywood's nightingale Lata Mangeshkar, actress Hema Malini, and former Indian Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.
Born in 1946, SPB made his debut some 50 years ago as a playback singer in Tamil and Telugu cinemas but soon crossed over to Bollywood where he gained fame despite his marked southern accent. He was the singing voice for Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.
"I planned to be an engineer. Then music turned the course of my life. I realized not to plan and let things play out for me," he had said in an interview.
SPB was the recipient of two of India's top civilian honours – Padma Shri in 2001 and Padma Bhushan in 2011.
Read Also: Young singer Prithwi Raj dies