Punjab police have raised a bill for Rs. 7 lakh for the heavy task of guarding dazzling actress Katrina Kaif from her star-struck fans for two days.
The Bollywood star, first and the only woman to be voted world’s sexiest five times by an international magazine, is shooting at Malerkotla and other locations in the state for the Kabir Khan spy thriller, “Phantom”, in which Saif Ali Khan plays the lead. The small Muslim dominated town has been transformed into a Pakistani spot for the film’s criminal-chase sequences.
During the two-day shooting at Malerkotla, the police had a tough time controlling the public that had thronged the sets to watch Katrina. It prevented the actors from being mobbed but the police had to deploy nearly 300 personnel to guard the huge floor in the camera range.
The men camped at the location day and night and by their request got shopkeepers to not open until all the scenes were shot, a favour for which the producers didn’t even care to offer them water. The upset cops asked their superiors to throw the bill at the filmmakers to make them pay for forgetting basic courtesy.
“Protecting people is our job but if someone exploits our men for commercial benefit, he should be charged. The film producers are not promoting Punjab, as they have shown Malerkotla as Pakistan. There’s even no tourism promotion. A producer who can blow up crores of rupees on one shooting schedule can well afford to pay for using two days of our service,” said a policeman on the spot.
Even Hollywood director Gurinder Chadha after shooting for “Bride and Prejudice” in Amritsar in 2004 had contributed to the police welfare fund. “Yes, we have raised the bill and now the matter is with the headquarters,” confirmed Sangrur senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu.
At Patiala, where the film stars are staying, the police contemplate raising another bill for security. Asked to react to the input, additional director general of police (security) Dinkar Gupta confirmed that the letter had reached his office. “I have to be careful taking a call, as the matter also concerns tourism,” he said.