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Telugu film industry squirms under drug probe limelight: All you need to know

The drug probe in Telangana is snowballing into a major embarrassment for the Telugu film industry with at least ten stars facing investigation.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 10:49 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Tollywood,Drug probe,Telangana excise department
Actor P Subbaraju appears before Telangana Excise officers in Hyderabad on July 21. He is among a clutch of Tollywood celebrities to be quizzed for their alleged involvement in a drug racket.(PTI)

The ongoing investigation by the Special Investigation Team of the Telangana excise and prohibition enforcement department into the drug peddling racket has shaken the Telugu film industry like never before.

Following is the timeline of scandal which began to unfold at the beginning of this month.

1. The arrest of a couple of drug peddlers on July 2 blew the lid off the racket. Calvin Mascarenhas (28) and Brendon Ben (20), suspected kingpins of the drug racket, reportedly told the SIT that they were regularly supplying high-end drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and methylenedioxy- methamphetamine (MDMA) to people in the corporate sector, students and celebrities in the Telugu film industry.

2. The SIT discreetly questioned students belonging to some corporate schools and also their parents. They did not reveal the names of schools and students but advised all such schools and colleges and parents to keep tabs on their wards to end drug addiction.

3. The crackdown on Tollywood which is believed to be the major narcotic market caused a sensation. Though excise officials had also questioned a few small-time Tollywood actors in the past in dug probes, but this time SIT officials served notices to a dozen film stars seeking to question them for alleged connections with the arrested peddlers, particularly Calvin.

4. Those who were summoned for questioning by the SIT include director Puri Jagannath (who made several hit Telugu films like Pokiri, Idiot, Loafer, Boss, Temper, Desamuduru and a couple of big Hindi films like Wanted and Budda Hoga Tera Baap), heroes Ravi Teja, Navdeep, Tarun, Nandu, Tanish, villain-cum-character actor Subba Raju, heroine Charmee, dancer Mumaith Khan, cinematographer Shyam K Naidu and art director Chinna. A few others are also likely to receive notices from the SIT shortly.

5. Puri Jagannath was the first celebrity to be quizzed on July 19. He was grilled for more than 10 hours for his alleged links with Calvin who was seen with the director in a few film functions. The SIT collected Jagannath’s his blood, hair and nail samples for medical examination to find out whether he had consumed any drugs or not.

6. Subbaraju of Baahubali fame, who was questioned for over 11 hours, is said to have given vital clues about alleged nexus between Tollywood and drug peddlers. He, however, said he had never consumed drugs.

7. Another famous actor Tarun was also quizzed for nearly 12 hours. The SIT reportedly questioned him about taking drugs in a pub he had started in 2009. The pub is now closed.

8. Navdeep was also questioned for nearly 11 hours, but he refused to divulge any information to the authorities. He is learnt to have some partnership in a pub, which was regularly visited by drug peddlers. Shyam K Naidu and Chinna were also questioned as witnesses as they were closely linked to Puri Jagannath.

9. Actress Charmee challenged the method of interrogation by the SIT authorities in the Hyderabad high court. The court directed that she be questioned only by women officers and that the officers cannot collect her blood, nail and hair samples without her consent. The interrogation of Charmee began at 10 am on Wednesday.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 10:48 IST