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Friday,03-December-2021

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Tollywood drugs case: Actor Rana Daggubati appears before ED

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Rana-Daggubati

Tollywood actor Rana Daggubati on Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe linked to a 2017 drug case.

The ‘Baahubali’ fame actor reached the ED office here around 10 a.m. and walked in as a posse of security personnel escorted him through a battery of media lensmen vying with each other to capture the moment.

Rana is likely to be questioned by ED sleuths about his bank details and financial transactions as part of the probe into suspected links of some celebrities with the accused involved in the case.

Rana is the fifth Tollywood personality to appear before ED. Director Puri Jagannadh and actors Charmee Kaur, Rakul Preet Singh and Nandu were questioned since August 31.

The ED had last month issued notices to 10 persons connected to Tollywood and two others including a private club manager as part of a money laundering probe linked to the case related to the smuggling of ‘Class A’ narcotic substances, including LSD and MDMA.

Nandu was questioned for more than eight hours on Tuesday. Main accused in the case Calvin Mascarenhas and two others were also grilled by the ED sleuths on Tuesday.

Actors Ravi Teja, Navdeep. Mumaith Khan, Tanish and Ravi Teja’s driver Srinivas have also been summoned by the ED in connection the drugs racket which was busted with the arrest of drug peddlers in 2017.

Rana and Rakul Preet did not figure in the list of Tollywood celebrities questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Telangana’s prohibition and excise department in 2017.

However, Rakul Preet was questioned by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai, last year in an alleged drugs nexus in Bollywood.

The drugs racket was busted on July 2, 2017 when customs officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two others and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from their possession.

They had reportedly told the investigators that they are supplying drugs to film celebrities, software engineers, and even students of some corporate schools. Mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were allegedly found in their contact lists.

The excise department had constituted SIT for a comprehensive probe. A total of 12 cases were registered, 30 people were arrested while 62 individuals including 11 people connected with Tollywood were examined by the SIT under section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code.

The SIT had collected blood, hair, nail and other samples from some of those who appeared before it for question and sent them for analysis.

The SIT filed charge sheet in eight out of 12 cases. It, however, gave clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.

Bollywood

‘Shabaash Mithu’ to hit the screens on Feb 4, 2022

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On the occasion of Mithali Raj’s birthday on Friday, the release date of ‘Shabaash Mithu’ starring Taapsee Pannu has been announced. It will hit the screens on February 4, 2022.

‘Shabaash Mithu’ is the coming-of-age tale of women’s cricket in India as witnessed by the most successful woman cricketer. The film chronicles the highs and lows, setbacks and moments of euphoria of Mithali’s life with Taapsee essaying the titular role.

Also seen in the film will be the talented actor Vijay Raaz in a key role.

‘Shabaash Mithu’ has been shot across domestic and international locations to aptly bring alive Mithali’s iconic journey and her meteoric rise to the world stage.

Produced by Viacom18 Studios, Shabaash Mithu’s Creative Producer is Ajit Andhare, while the film is Directed by Srijit Mukherji and Written by Priya Aven.

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Ali Fazal joins Gerard Butler in action thriller ‘Kandahar’

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Actor Ali Fazalis all set to star in an action thriller titled ‘Kandahar’ alongside Gerard Butler.

‘Kandahar’, is being directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who has directed films like ‘Angel Has Fallen’, ‘Felon’, Greenland’ and an upcoming Film with JK Simmons ‘National Champions’ among many others.

Commenting on being a part of the project, an excited Ali said: “I always look forward to new and exciting ventures . We are all set to begin production soon”.

‘Kandahar’ is based on the screenplay, which the director developed in tandem with former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune. Mitchell’s experiences at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan have shaped up the story and the principal photography of the film is expected to begin soon in Saudi Arabia.

The film is being produced by Thunder Road Films, the producers of the ‘John Wick’ and ‘Sicario’, G-BASE and Capstone Group.

Back at home, Ali will be soon seen in an untitled Arati Kadav film. The actor took to his Instagram a few days back to share the first look of the futuristic space film.

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‘Bob Biswas’: Intriguing but perfunctorily mounted

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Film: “Bob Biswas” (Streaming on Zee5); Duration: 132 minutes.

Director: Diya Annapurna Ghosh; Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Chitrangda Singh, Paran Bandopadhyay, Ronith Arora, Tina Desai, Samara Tijori, Ditipriya Roy, Pavbitra Rabha.

IANS Rating: ***1/2

This film focuses on the assassin Bob Biswas, a character conceived by Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala in 2012 released Kahaani which featured Vidya Balan, thus technically making it a prequel to Kahaani.

Actor Saswata Chatterjee had portrayed the quirky character in Kahaani with such flair and unconventional style that it landed becoming an intriguing figure worth exploring his backstory, and thus this film germinated.

Unlike the high-octane, nifty thriller Kahaani, Bob Biswas with a character-driven plot, is a slow-paced film. The titular character in a vulnerable state of mind embarks on a journey of self-discovery after being in a coma for eight years. Unable to recall his past, and while trying to piece his life together with his wife Mary, son Benny and stepdaughter Mini after he steps out of the hospital. How he gets his prospective victim’s MMS on a mobile phone and is forced to kill them while working undercover as a life insurance agent, forms the crux of the film.

Set in Kolkata, the script does have its moments, with the twists in the tale and the code of conduct among criminals, but it is Bob’s gullibility that keeps you hooked to the screen.

While we miss Saswata Chatterjee as the eponymous killer, Abhishek Bachchan with his bemused appearance and unwonted demeanour delivers an equally earnest performance. He is aptly supported by Chitrangda Singh as his wife Mary, Ronith Arora as Son Benny, and Samara Tijori as Mini.

Purab Kohli has his moments of onscreen glory as the drug peddler Bubai. Similarly, Pabitra Rabha as Dhonu the street-food seller, and Paran Bandopadhyay as the pharmacist Kali Da who keeps saying: “Niyam, Niyam hota hai…” leave their mark on the screen.

Tina Desai in a significant role as Police Officer Indira Verma is stereotypical and so are all the other supporting actors who are a part of the city’s underbelly.

While Bob Biswas’ back story is intriguing and the film informs you of how he is connected to the tale in ‘Kahaani’, writer Sujoy Ghosh takes the lazy way out.

His script fails to tell us about Bob’s initiation into the world of crime, how he became a contract killer in the first place. This would have been much more interesting. Also, Bob’s journey as the assassin is smooth and perfunctory that beyond a point, you just don’t get emotionally hooked.

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