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Stars jailed; uncertain times in Bollywood

Analysts say both Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan have a total of 43 million dollars in projects riding on them.

entertainment Updated: Aug 26, 2007 13:00 IST

Uncertain times loom for the Bollywood movie industry as two of its action heroes face jail terms after being convicted by Indian courts.

The two stars have a total of over 43 million dollars in movie projects riding on them, according to analysts.

Brawny actor Salman Khan, known for his he-man roles, spent the weekend behind bars after a court rejected an appeal against his conviction last year for killing a rare gazelle in 1998 in violation of India's wildlife laws.

Khan, who faces five years in jail, was arrested on Saturday in the western city of Jodhpur where he arrived by plane from his home in Mumbai, home to India's Hindi-language film industry.

On Monday, he can file another appeal in a higher court and apply for bail.

Another Bollywood "bad boy" Sanjay Dutt, 48, is free on bail after being sentenced to a six-year jail term for buying illegal arms from gangsters linked to India's worst-ever bombings in 1993 in Mumbai that killed 257 people.

Dutt has to turn himself in when his lawyers receive a copy of the judgement from Mumbai's anti-terror court which convicted him in late July.

"It's an embarrassment for the industry," trade analyst Taran Adarsh told AFP.

"Salman and Dutt were going through great (movie) phases. The jail terms will hit both," Adarsh added.

With six movies in production, some 750 million rupees (18.4 million dollars) of Bollywood money rides on Dutt's fate while over a billion rupees (25 million dollars) hang on Salman who has five to six projects, Adarsh says.

The two actors are close friends with a passion for fast cars and flashy lifestyles.

"Dutt and Salman are definitely on the 'A'-list of Bollywood's male stars. They are bankable," Indu Mirani, movie critic at India's


newspaper, told AFP on Saturday.

"Salman, after 18 years in the industry, still commands a pan-Indian audience," she added.

Salman Khan gave the industry its biggest hit this year with


which is believed to have more than doubled its investment, collecting 800 million rupees (19 million dollars) at the box office.

Bollywood has had a tough 2007, with only four of over 50 Bollywood movies this year a success in contrast with a record-breaking performance in 2006, according to industry experts.

India's Bollywood, the world's largest movie-making industry, turned out more than 250 films last year from its Mumbai base.

"It's a long battle ahead," said Dutt following his release on bail after serving three weeks in jail.

Dutt, son of a politically prominent Hindu father and a Muslim mother honoured for her acting, has taken on screen roles as gangsters and anti-heroes and has had an off-screen life marked by drug abuse and two failed marriages.

Khan, 41, is also no stranger to controversy. He faces charges of manslaughter after a road accident in 2002 that left one person dead and four injured.

The actor has denied allegations he was at the wheel, drunk and with no licence when his car ran over people sleeping on a sidewalk in Mumbai.

First Published: Aug 26, 2007 09:12 IST