Telenovela marathon: Pakistani serials entertain Kashmiri folk amid intermittent internet shutdowns and channel bans

Until 2017, it was fairly common for television sets in Kashmiri homes to play Pakistani dramas. People would gather around to watch short yet tremendously popular dramas like Humsafar dealing with different facets of love and relationships and relate to it better than the several hundred Hindi saas-bahu serials that was Indian TV’s offering.

Most Kashmiris watching Indian soaps said that they could not understand the deep logical inconsistencies that shows presented to audiences.

“Unlike lengthy Indian serials, there are no rebirths in Pakistani serials. In Indian television serials when a character dies, they are found alive again in another city or village after several years,” said Dr Asmeh, a middle-aged working woman from Srinagar.

She first started watching Pakistani serials on the Indian TV network Zee Entertainment Enterprises which launched the channel Zindagi in 2013. This channel was available on cable networks in Kashmir and showcased serials and cooking shows from across the subcontinent besides Pakistan including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Zindagi was the first Indian entertainment channel that aired popular Pakistani serials till it stopped airing them following the 2016 Uri attack.

Over the years, people from Kashmir have taken to the internet to watch the shows that have helped them share culture from across the subcontinent. These have included cooking shows that appeal to their similar palettes, telenovelas that show fashion similar to theirs, and mostly dramas that have themes and values that Kashmiris can relate to. This has been possible only due to internet and mobile penetration. This journey towards getting a variety of entertainment has however been tedious and frequently disturbed by internet and channel bans.

The curb

In 2017, the then Jammu and Kashmir government banned at least 34 “unauthorized” TV channels for their “potential to encourage violence and disturb the law and order situation in Kashmir”.

Some of the popular channels which were disallowed from airing included religious and news channels like Hum TV, ARY Digital Asia, Hum Sitaray, ARY Zindagi and ARY Masala that showcased some of the more popular Pakistani drama serials widely watched in Kashmir.

The then Governor of the state N. N. Vohra’s administration had distanced itself from the ban, saying that the “issue of permitting or not permitting telecast of any TV channel is not within the purview of the State Government and the state has no role in it.”

The Pakistani serials were later replaced with Turkish dramas as no other alternatives were available.

Over the years though, Pakistani shows have once again become popular due to the easy availability and penetration of mobile internet. The episodes usually talk about various social issues, culture and religion- all major points of attraction for Kashmiri women.


Several Kashmiri women say that Pakistani shows do a better job of recording their presence and nailing characters who are similar to them. They are also short and less caricature-like, they say.

Most of these popular Pakistani drama serials featuring strong and more realistic female characters are in fact written by women themselves. This attracts more female viewership. For example, Pakistani writer and Urdu novelist Umera Ahmed’s novels have been adapted into several popular dramas like Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Maat, Shehr-e-Zaat and Durre e Shehwar which have been widely watched over the years.

Dr. Asmeh likes to catch up on her favorite Pakistani serials Parizaad on YouTube whenever she gets free time.

“Indian TV serials are full of melodrama and are unnecessarily stretched to years which make them boring and one loses interest after some time. But what works for Pakistani serials is that they are short, rational and end on a meaningful note,” she says.

A 25-year-old young woman from south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, who wishes not to be named, says when Zindagi channel was launched, she, her siblings and her mother would religiously follow serials like Humsafar, Maat, Meri zaat Zarra e benishan and Sher-e-zaat on the channel. She too has switched to YouTube to catch up with these shows when she could.

“The situations shown in Pakistani serials seem very real and authentic unlike the daily soaps we had been watching over the years on mainstream channels like Zee TV and Star. The major plot point or portion of conflict is not the problem between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law but about social and cultural issues. Some of these Pakistani shows have meaningful scripts that are entertaining and educational. I know many young women who buy pen drives only for storing these serials. They also share these with their friends,” she says.

She says that her favourite serials are Udaari which talks about child abuse and Khuda Mera Bhi Hai which is about an intersex person. “I also like the serial Beti that talks about patriarchy, and more recent serials like Hum Kahan Ke Sache Thai which is about good parenting,” she says.

Currently, she is watching Sinf-e-Aahan, a serial on ARY Digital which she says is unlike most serials on television today. Here, women are not victims of society. “It introduces a completely different perspective which goes against the stereotypical idea of women being delicate and soft but instead proposes the notion that women are truly made of steel,” she says.

She adds that the similarities in religious and cultural themes explored sensitively by these serials helps find larger audiences in Kashmir. “The taboos and rituals shown in these serials are quite similar to the Kashmiri household. Our daily tussles are portrayed on screen,” she adds.

Sadaf Masoodi, a mass communication research scholar in the University of Kashmir, points out that the access to Pakistani serials is some kind of a breakaway in terms of content and style. She adds that they also do not make caricatures of Muslim characters.

“I do not remember having seen any mainstream, popular Indian drama that had any Muslim representation in leading roles. Even if there was any Muslim representation, it was more about some minor characters who would be portrayed in a stereotypical manner,” she says.

Sadaf has lost the count of Pakistani dramas her working mother manages to watch on YouTube whenever she gets some time, she says. She and many of her friends watch Alif as it speaks about spiritual connections. “Some of my friends were so inspired by how the theme was played in the serial that many of them started replicating the Islamic calligraphy that the series shows in detail,” she says.

Another Kashmiri researcher (name withheld) who studies gender issues says that since Kashmiri everyday life is informed by religion, and religious morality, Pakistani serials are largely accepted for collective viewership in households as they perform in this very same moral boundary. The relationships depicted in these serials resonate within Kashmiri cultural setup too, the researcher says.

“The latest trend of clothing as shown in Pakistani serials which is largely similar to the cultural clothing of Kashmiri men and women makes these serials relevant. They guide the Kashmiri fashion trends, unlike Indian clothing which is very different as shown in Indian television serials,” the researcher says and adds that viewers get a deep sense of closure as they are only about 30 episodes long.

Pakistani drama serials are also popular among young and old men in Kashmir.

A Kashmiri journalist who works in Delhi first started watching the popular Pakistani drama Zindagi Gulzar Hai about a decade ago and says that he was hooked to it. He found the theme of class divide and women empowerment shown in the serial realistic; its characters believable.

“The female character in the serial comes from a humble family. There was nothing overly dramatic about the way they speak and I can easily identify myself and my friends with the story arc of characters,” he says, adding that his wife and her family also keenly watches many Pakistani dramas.

More recently, he and his friends in Kashmir particularly liked a Zindagi Original Pakistani drama web series Churails focusing on the lives of four women, Karachi’s secret detectives “whose mission it is to expose the city’s most unfaithful and elite husbands”. This has been streaming on the OTT platform ZEE5 since August, 2020. Every character in this web series has a compelling backstory.


Many interviewees say that in this day and age, good content always sells. They would be happy to watch shows from both India and Pakistan as long as there is fair representation, great scripts, compelling acting and gripping plot lines. In the future, they hope for better content to showcase more regular representation of the lives of common Kashmiri folk.

Singer KK Dies After Concert in Kolkata at the Age of 53

Krishnakumar Kunnath, the Indian playback singer popularly known as KK, died on Tuesday night after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest post a concert performance in Kolkata.

The 53-year-old singer was in the city for a two-day concert and reportedly fell ill during the last event at Nazrul Mancha. He was taken to the CMRI hospital, where he was declared “brought dead” around 10 pm.

According to The Indian Express, KK felt unwell during the concert and complained of uneasiness during the interval. However, he continued to perform until the end of the event that was organised by the Gurudas College. Post the show, the singer was taken to a five-star hotel in Esplanade, where his health deteriorated, and he died before making it to the hospital.

The singer’s post mortem will be conducted on Wednesday in Kolkata.

KK, who ruled the airwaves with back-to-back hit songs in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu films in the 2000s, began his career by singing advertisement jingles. He was introduced to the film world by composer AR Rahman. His cinema debut was with the songs Kalluri Saalai and Hello Doctor from the 1996 Tamil film Kadhal Desam. KK later rose to fame with his debut album titled Pal; the songs Yaaron and Pal from the album became big hits and were frequently sung in school and college farewells.

In a career spanning almost three decades, KK sang innumerable songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, and Hindi. He cut his teeth in Bollywood by singing in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and went on to lend his voice to films such as Gulzar’s Maachis (1996), Humraaz (2002), Dus (2005), Om Shanti Om (2007), Jannat (2008), Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), Gangster (2006), Devdas (2002), Woh Lamhe (2006), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), and many others.

KK won several awards for his playback singing, including at the Hub Awards, Filmfare Awards South, Eenam-Swaralaya Singer of the Year Award, and Screen Awards, among others.

The singer’s untimely demise has shocked the film world and the general public. Tributes and condolences have since been pouring in from members of the film industry, fans and politicians on social media.

Singer Shreya Ghoshal took to Twitter and wrote, I am unable to wrap my head around this news. Numb. Why! This is too hard to accept! Heart is shattered in pieces. One of the most humble, gentle, pure human beings I have met in my life. God’s dear child was sent to spread love in the lives of millions of fans, friends and colleagues. Now God needed him back? So soon?! Cruel!! Can’t imagine what his family is going through. My deepest, sincerest condolences. His golden, soulful voice echoes in all our hearts. Rest in peace dear KK.

Composer Anu Malik wrote, “Shattered beyond words! Gone too soon brother!  There never was anyone like you and there never will be!”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, “Saddened by the untimely demise of noted singer Krishnakumar Kunnath popularly known as KK. His songs reflected a wide range of emotions [and] struck a chord with people of all age groups. We will always remember him through his songs. Condolences to his family and fans. Om Shanti.”

Others who paid tribute to the late singer included actors Preity Zinta, Parambrata Chatterjee, Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal, Vivek Oberoi, Paoli DamChitrangda Singh, Unni Mukundan, singers Sonu Nigam, Harshdeep Kaur, Vishal Dadlani, composers Ramani Bharadwaj, Thaman S, filmmaker Mohan Raja, and filmmaker-comedian Varun Grover.

KK is survived by his wife Jyothi, son Nakul and daughter Tamara.

Kerala HC Grants Interim Pre-Arrest Bail to Vijay Babu in Rape Case

The Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, granted interim pre-arrest bail to Malayalam actor-filmmaker Vijay Babu, who has been accused of sexual assault by a female actor. The interim relief will be applicable until the next hearing on Thursday.

Justice Bechu Kiran Thomas, who heard the case, granted the interim bail after it was brought to his knowledge that Babu was willing to present himself before the jurisdiction of the court.

It is to be noted that Babu was originally scheduled to fly down to Kerala from Dubai on Monday, but he cancelled his trip on apprehension of being arrested at the airport. He rescheduled his return for Wednesday, by which time he expected a verdict in his pre-arrest bail plea. This verdict has now been given in his favour.

Babu was charged in the rape case back in April, after a female actor filed a complaint alleging that he had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14.

Soon after the news about the sexual assault allegation broke out, Babu went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. Violating the law, he went on to reveal the survivor’s identity by openly naming her, and a second FIR was filed against him for this.

Further, on April 24, Babu fled to Dubai from Bengaluru. He later moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case before his return from Dubai.

The survivor had stated in her complaint that Babu had “gained her trust by being friendly and giving her professional advice” when she had just started out in the Malayalam film industry. She also alleged that Babu sexually exploited her under the pretence of being a “saviour” on professional and personal terms.

However, Babu claimed in his bail application that he had featured in a commercial for Kerala police alongside the female actor, and that she was constantly trying to communicate with him, asking him about opportunities in films, despite him claiming that he was not responsible for casting. He also alleged that the female actor sent him messages during odd hours and stated that he was ready to submit these during the investigation.

Stating that the female actor is trying to “blackmail” him with a false case, Babu’s counsel contended that he apprehended an arrest by the police guided by media reports. Babu also claimed that all the details of the case were available on social media and print media even before the FIS or FIR were uploaded, which proved that an “unholy nexus” existed between the police and the media.

He thus sought protection from arrest under section 438 of the CrPC (direction for granting of bail to person apprehending arrest).

The court granted his petition, noting that, “Apprehending arrest in a non-bailable arrest is sufficient justification to move an anticipatory bail application and when the arrest is imminent, the statute provides even the grant of an interim order.”

Chargesheet Filed Against Poonam Pandey & Husband Sam Bombay for Filming ‘Obscene Video’

A chargesheet has been filed against model and actor Poonam Pandey and her husband Sam Ahmad Bombay before the Judicial Magistrate First Class by Goa’s Canacona police, for allegedly trespassing on government property and filming an “obscene video” at Chapoli Dam, back in 2020.

The incident took place on October 31, 2020. A few days after this, on November 5, Pankaj Kumar Singh, the Superintendent of Police (South Goa), told the media that Pandey was arrested for “trespassing into government land” at the state-owned dam area in Canacona town.

Later that night, the actor and her husband were granted bail on a bond of Rs 20,000 each.

Two separate complaints were registered against Pandey and her husband at the time. While the State Water Resources Department filed a complaint on November 3 for trespassing, videography, and circulating the video, the women’s wing of the Goa Forward Party filed another complaint on November 4 for filming an “indecent video.”

Aside from these two complaints, the residents of Canacona town had also demanded action against the two policemen who had provided security to the actor and her crew. The two inspectors were then suspended pending further inquiry.

The police has recorded the statements of 39 witnesses, who would be examined by the court during the case trial, Canacona police inspector Pravin Gawas told PTI on Tuesday.

The couple has been charged under sections 447 (criminal trespass), 292, 293 (obscenity) and 294 (reciting or uttering any obscene song or words in public place) of the Indian Penal Code as well as provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, and the Information Technology Act.

Meanwhile, Pandey also stands as an accused in the ongoing pornography case involving actor Shilpa Shetty‘s husband and businessman Raj Kundra and actor Sherlyn Chopra. The case, which dates back to October 2020, pertains to an FIR registered by the Cyber Cell regarding the broadcasting of nude, erotic content on an OTT platform. Recently, in January, Pandey was granted interim protection in the case by the Supreme Court.

5 Detained from Uttarakhand in Connection with Sidhu Moose Wala Murder

Punjab Police has detained five people from Dehradun, Uttarakhand in connection with the recent murder of singer-politician Sidhu Moose Wala.

As per the police, the five persons were picked up from the Shimla bypass of Dehradun and taken to Punjab for interrogation.

Shubhdeep Singh Sindhu, the 28-year-old Punjabi singer and Congress leader, popularly known as Sidhu Moose Wala, was shot dead in the Mansa district of Punjab on Sunday.

The singer, who belonged to the Moose Wala village near Mansa, had joined the Congress party in December, ahead of the Punjab assembly polls that took place in February. He lost his seat to Aam Aadmi Party’s Dr Vijay Singla.

A day before he was shot, Punjab police had withdrawn the security cover of 424 people, including Moose Wala, as part of the newly-elected Bhagwant Mann government’s crackdown on VIP culture.

The following day, Moose Wala and two of his friends were attacked while they were in a jeep, on their way to the village of Jawahar Ke in Punjab. Several bullets were shot at the singer’s jeep and he was later found bleeding on his seat. Moose Wala was taken to a hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’. The singer’s two friends were also injured during the course of the firing.

In addition to detaining the five people, Punjab Police also recovered three vehicles used in the crime, including an Alto car that was allegedly snatched from a family by the accused to flee following the murder, said Faridkot Range Inspector-General PK Yadav, who is leading the investigations.

Soon after the shooting, the police said that a member of a gang from Canada had claimed responsibility for the murder. “The Lawrence Bishnoi gang is involved in this murder. Lucky, a member of the gang, has taken responsibility from Canada,” Punjab DGP VK Bhawra told the media. He further referred to the late singer’s manager, Shaganpreet, whose name had come up in connection with the murder of an individual named Vicky Middukhera last year, and said that this act was likely done in retaliation for that.

“Today, Moosewala was killed in Punjab. I, Sachin Bishnoi, Lawrence Bishnoi take the responsibility. It’s our work. Moosewala’s name surfaced in our brother Vikramjit Singh Middukhera and Gurlal Brar’s murder, but the Punjab Police did not take any action against him. We also came to know that Moosewala was also involved in the encounter of our associate Ankit Bhadu. Moosewala was working against us. Delhi Police had taken his name but Moosewala used his political power and saved his skin each time,” an individual named Goldy Brar reportedly wrote on social media. The post is currently unavailable.

Rhea Chakraborty’s Lawyer Seeks Fresh Probe into Drug Case after NCB Gives Clean Chit to Aryan Khan

Senior lawyer Satish Maneshinde has sought after a fresh probe into actor Rhea Chakraborty’s drug case related to the death of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput after Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was given a clean chit in the cruise ship drugs case last week by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Khan, who was earlier arrested and then released on bail in the drug case, was cleared of all charges due to the lack of concrete evidence to prove his conspiracy with the other accused and also since no drugs were found on him.

Maneshinde, who represented Khan and Chakraborty, has now sought a similar enquiry into Chakraborty’s drug case. Speaking to E Times, he said, “I demanded on social media that there should be an enquiry in Rhea’s case. NCB can form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and investigate this case too.”

Pointing out that SN Pradhan, the Director General of NCB, had said that WhatsApp chats are not admissible in court, Maneshinde said, “No drugs were found on her. No tests were done. Why should she suffer? Her case was also handled by a set of officers who were part of Aryan’s case too. I am requesting the central government authorities and the PMO to look into this.”

Maneshinde also called for an enquiry into the other Bollywood drug cases. “Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet Singh and Sara Ali Khan were all paraded at the NCB office. The DG NCB should investigate the matter,” he said.

Following the death of Rajput on June 14, 2020, in Mumbai, a massive drug probe was carried out within the Hindi film industry. Rajput’s family had filed cases against Chakraborty and her brother alleging that they involved Rajput in money laundering and had procured drugs for him.

On September 8, 2020, Rhea Chakraborty was arrested by the NCB for the alleged use and possession of drugs, financing illicit traffic, abetment and criminal conspiracy. Chakraborty was later granted bail on October 7, 2020 by the Bombay High Court.

Vijay Babu Rape Case: Accused Actor-Producer Fails to Return to India

Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu, who is charged in a rape case, has failed to return to India from Dubai as scheduled on Monday. He has reportedly postponed his travel to Wednesday.

Babu was charged in the rape case back in April, after a female actor filed a complaint alleging that he had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14. However, on April 24, Babu fled to Dubai from Bengaluru.

Soon after news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the accused also went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. Violating the law, Babu revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her and a second FIR was filed against him for this as well.

Later, Babu moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case. When the plea came up for hearing, the court had ordered the actor to submit his return air ticket to the court. With this being the case, Babu’s lawyers had produced his return ticket to India from Dubai on a morning flight on Monday.

However, since the police remain firm on arresting him upon arrival and the court has not yet granted him anticipatory bail, the accused appears to have postponed his travel in order to evade arrest.

The High Court has, meanwhile, pushed the hearing of his bail plea to Tuesday. According to The Hindu, Vijay Babu is thus planning to return on Wednesday after a verdict is given in his plea.

In the meantime, on May 5, a Blue Corner notice was issued by the Kerala police to extradite the accused from Dubai. This is an inquiry notice issued to track, identify or obtain information about an absconding accused, and it is issued to the country where the criminal is currently suspected to be hiding. The police had also contacted Interpol to extradite him and official procedures for the same were launched through the Crime Branch, which is the nodal agency of Interpol in the state.

A few weeks later, the actor-producer’s passport was impounded on May 20 as a result of his failure to surrender before the law.

Rs 200 Cr Money Laundering Case: Jacqueline Fernandez’s LOC Temporarily Suspended, Actor Allowed to Travel Abroad

Actor Jacqueline Fernandez, who is currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in the Rs 200 crore money laundering case involving conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, has been granted permission by a Delhi court to travel abroad for an award function.

The former Miss Sri Lanka has received approval to travel to Abu Dhabi between May 31 and June 6 to participate in the upcoming IIFA Awards 2022. The ED had previously issued a Lookout Circular (LOC) against the actor, which prevented her from being able to leave the country.

On May 11, Fernandez had moved the court seeking permission to travel abroad for 15 days to Abu Dhabi, France and Nepal. She had also requested the court to direct the ED to release her passport. In her application, Fernandez had mentioned that she wanted to participate in an international film event in Abu Dhabi between May 17 and May 22, travel to France for the Cannes Film festival 2022 from May 17 to May 28, and then to Nepal on May 27-28.

The Delhi court, which had sought a response from the ED on the same day, has now granted Fernandez permission to travel from May 31-June 6.

The ED is probing the money laundering case, which is based on a FIR filed by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing against conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar and others, for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, and extortion of around Rs 200 crores. The agency has seized a sea-facing bungalow in Chennai, along with Rs 82.5 lakh in cash and over a dozen luxury cars, in connection with the case.

Chandrasekhar, who was arrested in 2017 for attempting to bribe the Election Commission, was allegedly running the extortion racket from behind bars. The ED said that he had reportedly made calls to dupe multiple people by impersonating senior government officers and offering to “help them” for a price, using a cellphone that was illegally procurred in prison.

Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh’s wife, Aditi Singh, was one of the parties cheated in this manner. She had informed the police that in June 2020, a man pretending to be a senior official of the law ministry had offered to help her secure bail for her husband, who was arrested in a money laundering case at the time, in exchange for funds.

In August, Fernandez was questioned by ED as a witness in the case for over five hours in Delhi. She was considered to be one of the many victims in the Rs 200 crore scam.

As per a chargesheet filed by ED, Fernandez received expensive gifts from Chandrashekhar. While she confirmed this, the actor alleged that he had approached her under the pretext of being the owner of Sun TV.

Recently, the ED attached assets worth over Rs 7 crore belonging to the actor to the probe in the money laundering case.

Punjabi Singer Sidhu Moose Wala Shot Dead; Canada-based Gangster Behind It, Say Punjab Police

Shubhdeep Singh Sindhu, the Punjabi singer and Congress leader popularly known as Sidhu Moose Wala, was shot dead in the Mansa district of Punjab on Sunday. Punjab police reportedly suspect that it was the result of a gang war.

According to the police, a member of a gang from Canada has claimed responsibility for the murder “The Lawrence Bishnoi gang is involved in this murder. Lucky, a member of the gang, has taken responsibility from Canada,” Punjab DGP VK Bhawra told the media. He further referred to the late singer’s manager, Shaganpreet, whose name had come up in connection with the murder of an individual named Vicky Middukhera last year, and said that this act was likely done in retaliation for that.

The 28-year-old singer, who belonged to the Moose Wala village near Mansa, had joined the Congress party recently, in December, ahead of Punjab assembly polls that took place in February. He lost his seat to Aam Aadmi Party’s Dr Vijay Singla.

A day before his murder, Punjab police had withdrawn the security cover of 424 people, including Moose Wala, as part of the newly-elected Bhagwant Mann government’s crackdown on VIP culture.

The following day, Moose Wala and two of his friends were attacked while in a jeep, on their way to the village Jawahar Ke in Punjab, as seen in CCTV footage from a traffic camera.

Several bullets were shot at the singer’s jeep and he was found bleeding on his seat. Moose Wala was taken to a hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead.’ The singer’s two friends were also injured during the course of the firing.

Punjab Police has reportedly formed a special investigation team to probe the incident.

During the pandemic-induced lockdown, photographs of Moose Wala that showed him firing an AK-47 rifle at a firing range, had appeared on social media. Following this, in May 2020, he was booked under the Arms Act and the Disaster Management Act in Barnala, Punjab.

Further, in July 2020, Moose Wala had faced criticism for promoting gun culture in his songs and had also been booked for allegedly promoting violence through his song Sanju.

Several celebrities and politicians took to social media to express their condolences and pay tribute to Moose Wala following his demise. Actors Ajay Devgn, Neha Sharma, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Shehnaaz Gill, international singer and rapper Drake, musician Vishal Dadlani, Salim Merchant, comedian Kapil Sharma, Munawar Faruqui, cricketer Harbhajan Singh and Shikhar Dhawan, among several others, paid their respects.

Telangana HC Stays Proceedings of Complaint Against Director Ram Gopal Varma

The Telangana High Court has stayed the proceedings of a recent complaint filed against filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, after an individual from a production house claimed that the filmmaker cheated him of Rs 56 lakh.

The Miyapur Police Station of Hyderabad had registered a case against Varma, under sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 417 (punishment for cheating), 420 (cheating), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The complaint was raised by Koppada Sekhar Raju, a proprietor of Sekhara Art Creations. In his petition, he has stated that initially, he had first lent Rs 8 lakh to Varma, and later on, Rs 20 lakh back in 2020. After that, while Varma was making his film Disha Encounter, the filmmaker had persuaded Raju to invest an additional amount of Rs 28 lakh, and had also said that he would be credited as a co-producer for the film. In total, Varma borrowed Rs 56 lakh, and an agreement was set that the money was to be returned to the petitioner, once Disha Encounter was released. Subsequently, Raju claimed that Varma has not returned his money as yet, and said that the director had “threatened” him over a phone call. After he approached the Court, a case was filed against Varma.

However, as per the latest court hearing, Varma’s counsel DV Sitharam Murthy contended that it was Raju who had approached the filmmaker in 2019, with an intention to produce Disha Encounter and had requested Varma to direct it. Subsequently, in January 2020, Raju had loaned Rs 8 lakh to Varma, following which the director began shooting the film. Raju went on to lend Rs 56 lakh in total on three separate occasions between January and February 2020.

While Raju found it a financial constraint to raise further funds, which led to the halt of the film’s shoot, Varma in “good faith” had agreed to return the money, if someone else could produce and release the film. Later, Anuraag Kancherla stepped in as the producer, while Raju was credited as an associate producer in the film’s promotions.

Raju also alleged that Varma took interest-free, hand loans from him to back the film and claimed that he was under the assumption that Varma was producing the film, until January 2021.

The court, after listening to both sides, observed discrepancies in Raju’s argument and stayed all further proceedings against Varma, regarding the complaint.

The matter has been posted to June 17 for the next hearing.

Meanwhile, Varma has lodged a complaint with Panjagutta police station against producers Narti Karuna and Natti Kranthi, claiming that the duo has forged his signature on financial documents, with which they have filed a civil suit, seeking an injunction on the release of Varma’s film Khatra. The complaint has been sent in for the police’s legal opinion.

Madras HC Refuses to Quash IT Proceedings Against SJ Suryah

The Madras High Court refused to quash six prosecution initiations by the Income Tax department against filmmaker-actor SJ Suryah for recovery of tax amounting to over Rs 7 crore.

The case was heard by Justice G Chandrasekharan, who observed that Suryah had neither paid the tax dues nor filed returns for it even after the IT department issued notices.

According to Times of India, the court stated that unless the accused shows concerns regarding his mental state, the Income Tax Act charges the act as an offence.

The tax case against Suryah was initiated by the IT department which said that for the assessment years 2002-03 to 2006-07, and 2009-10, the actor has “suppressed taxable income”, following which the department initiated the prosecution for the recovery of Rs 7.5 crore tax pending against him. However, Suryah moved the Madras High Court challenging the prosecution before a special court for income tax cases in Chennai.

While Suryah’s counsel, NR Elango argued that the IT department’s complaints are “premature” and the proceedings are yet to be finished, public prosecutor N Sheela said that the petitions are “not maintainable” and are filed “abusing the process of court”. She further argued that the IT department’s complaints were filed as an “offshoot” of search proceedings held, without which the “violations” committed by Suryah would have resulted in “suppression of income” and loss to the government.

Noting the arguments kept in front of the court by the IT department, the court refused to quash the initiations by the department on the actor for non-payment of dues.

Suryah was last seen in the recently successful Tamil film, Don  featuring Sivakarthikeyan and Priyanka Arul Mohan. The actor-filmmaker, who has several recent successful stints as an actor, is awaiting the releases of Kadamaiyai Sei, and Bommai. Suryah will also star alongside Vishal in the upcoming Mark Anthony.

#MeToo: Kevin Spacey to be Charged with 4 Counts of Sexual Assault in UK

MeToo accused Kevin Spacey is set to be charged with four counts of sexual assault and one charge of penetrative sex without consent in the UK, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The complaints against the 62-year-old actor and producer came from three men, and were lodged after a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police.

Out of the four complaints of sexual assault, three allegedly took place in London, and the fourth in Gloucestershire. Spacey also faces an additional sexual offence complaint in London.

According to CPS, the first complainant was assaulted twice in March 2005, while the second complainant was assaulted once in August 2008 and then forced to engage in penetrative sex around the same time. The third complainant was sexually assaulted in Gloucestershire in April 2013.

“The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Spacey are active and that he has the right to a fair trial,” the public prosecution agency added.

Spacey was first accused of sexual misconduct by actor Anthony Rapp in 2017. The latter, best known for Star Trek: Discovery, alleged that Spacey had made a sexual advance towards him in 1986, when Rapp was only 14.

Spacey issued a public apology to Rapp, and wrote, “I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”

In the same post, Spacey came out as a gay man.

Several complaints similar to that of Rapp’s followed, including from those who worked on the show House of Cards. Consequently, Spacey was ousted from the Netflix show in which he played the lead character and served as an executive producer. Netflix also cancelled Gore, a biopic on Gore Vidal starring Spacey.

The actor was further ordered to pay nearly $31 million to the show’s producers, MRC Entertainment, for breach of contract when the company sued him in January 2019, claiming to have suffered “substantial losses” due to his behaviour.

After the allegations of sexual misconduct against him surfaced, Spacey has either been removed or replaced from multiple projects.

However, the actor is set to return to the screen after four years with a cameo in the Italian film L’uomo Che Disegnò DioVariety reported in May. He will play the role of a police detective in the Franco Nero film.

Aryan Khan Gets Clean Chit in Cruise Ship Drugs Case

Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, who was earlier arrested and then released on bail in the cruise ship drugs case, has now been given a clean chit in the matter by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

On October 3, 2021, Khan was taken into custody by the NCB after drugs were seized on board a cruise ship. His bail was rejected multiple times based on the agency’s claim that he had played a role in the illicit procurement and consumption of drugs. The NCB had also alleged that Khan was part of a larger conspiracy and had contacts with an international drug network.

The 23-year-old was eventually granted bail by the Bombay High Court on October 28 and he walked out of Arthur Road jail on October 30 after spending 26 days in custody. Following this, in December, Khan’s bail conditions were relaxed and the Bombay High Court had ruled that he need not appear before the NCB every Friday.

As per a statement released to the media on Friday, the NCB has now cleared Khan of the charges.

“SIT carried out its investigation in an objective manner. The touchstone of the principle of proof beyond reasonable doubt has been applied. Based on the investigation carried out by SIT, a complaint (charge sheet) has been filed against 14 persons under various sections of NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act. Complaint against rest six persons is not being filed due to lack of sufficient evidence,” said the statement.

“All the accused persons were found in possession of narcotics except Aryan (Khan) and Mohak (Jaiswal),” the statement further said.

Along with Khan, his friend Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha were also taken into custody in October after the agency allegedly seized 13 gm of cocaine, 21 gm of charas or hashish, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), 5 gm mephedrone, and cash worth Rs 1.33 lakh.

Meanwhile, Khan recently started work on a web series that he is writing and directing for his father Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment banner. An official announcement on the project is yet to be made. According to reports, he was working on potential ideas for a web series and a feature film for Red Chillies, with Bilal Siddiqi as his co-writer on both projects.

Ray Liotta, Actor Known for Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’, Dies at 67

Ray Liotta, best known for starring in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film Goodfellas, died in his sleep on Thursday. The 67-year-old actor was in the Dominican Republic, filming for Dangerous Waters.

Liotta was born on December 18, 1954, to an Italian father and a Scottish-Irish mother. He was abandoned at an orphanage, and was later adopted when he was six months old by Mary and Alfred Liotta.

He attended college at the University of Miami, and took up drama out of boredom, according to Lifetime TV. Liotta bagged parts in stage productions such as Cabaret, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music. He moved to New York after graduating with a major in theatre.

A few months after his arrival in New York, Liotta landed a role in Joey Perrini’s long-running soap opera Another World, in which he appeared from 1978 to 1981.

After playing small roles in television films, Liotta made his big screen debut with The Lonely Lady in 1983. His first major acting role was in Something Wild (1986) and it earned him a Golden Globe nomination in the best supporting actor category.

In 1990, Liotta essayed the role of the gangster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film Goodfellas. He prepared for the role by spending time with the real Henry Hill and by listening to tapes of the FBI investigation of him and others.

Liotta went on to feature in films like Unlawful Entry (1992), Corrina (1994), and Cop Land (1997), among others.

In the 2000s, Liotta appeared in Hannibal (2001), Narc (2002), and Battle in Seattle (2007). More recently, he starred in the critically-acclaimed film Marriage Story (2019), which featured Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in the lead.

Liotta has also appeared in prominent television shows such as Shades of Blue (alongside Jennifer Lopez), an episode of Modern Family, The Simpsons, and Hanna.

Lopez was among the many who paid tribute to Liotta on social media. She wrote, “Ray was my partner in crime on Shades of Blue. The first thing that comes to mind is he was so kind to my children. Ray was the epitome of a tough guy who was all mushy on the inside. I guess that’s what made him such a compelling actor to watch. The original Goodfella.”

She added, “Like all artists he was complicated, sincere, honest and so very emotional.”

Lorraine Bracco, his co-star in Goodfellas, took to social media and wrote, “I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray. I can be anywhere in the world and people will come up and tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same, Ray Liotta.”

Actor Robert DeNiro, who also co-starred with Liotta in Goodfellas, said in a statement to the media, “I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. He is way too way young to have left us. May he rest in peace.”

Scorsese, in his statement to the media, spoke about Liotta’s performance in Goodfellas and said he was “courageous as an actor.”

“Playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers, and Ray was in almost every scene of a long, tough shoot. He absolutely amazed me, and I’ll always be proud of the work we did together on that picture,” the famed filmmaker added.

Liotta is survived by his daughter Karse and his fiancée Jacy Nittolo.

Timeline: Everything You Need to Know Before the Verdict in Amber Heard-Johnny Depp Defamation Trial

The six-week-long defamation trial between ex-spouses Amber Heard and Johnny Depp is scheduled to come to an end on Friday. Ahead of the verdict in the defamation case, Silverscreen India brings you a timeline of all the important events in the long-drawn-out legal battle between the duo, and the claims made by both parties.

While the ongoing trial is over Depp’s $50 million defamation suit against Heard for her 2018 op-ed piece that the former alleges impacted his prospects in Hollywood, the duo has been involved in multiple legal battles since Heard filed for divorce in 2016 alleging domestic abuse, setting the turf for one of the most high-profile cases fought in the public eye.

2013 – First instance of abuse, according to Amber Heard

Depp and Heard first met on the sets of The Rum Diary. They started dating in 2012, while on the press tour for the film, and got married in 2015.

According to Heard’s testimony during the ongoing trial, the first year of their relationship was fine and “like a dream,” and the episodes of abuse began in 2013.

“I will never forget it. It changed my life,” Heard said as she recounted the incident.

Heard said that they were having a conversation at Depp’s place, when she asked him about a tattoo on his arm, that read ‘Wino’ and laughed over it. “I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face,” she said. “And I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”

“I, as a woman, had never been hit like that,” she said.

Heard also mentioned that Depp had been drinking and she believed that he was also high on cocaine at the time of the incident.

Although Heard left Depp after this, the two reconciled shortly thereafter. “I believed there was a line he’d never cross again and that was it,” she said.

2014 – Boston airplane ride incident

Just a year ahead of their wedding, Heard said, Depp was jealous of actor James Franco and disapproved of the two working together on a film. Time and again, Depp would accuse Heard of having a “secret thing” with Franco.

The accusations allegedly snowballed into physical abuse when Depp kicked Heard in the back on an airplane, after enquiring about any intimate scenes that she had with Franco.

During the same incident, Depp reeked of alcohol and weed when he approached her, said Heard. Shortly after, Depp allegedly started to howl and passed out in the bathroom.

Depp’s account of the same incident differed in that, he claimed that Heard “was looking to pick a fight with him.” He added that Heard verbally heckled, hassled, poked, and prodded him, because of which he went back into the bathroom where, he said, he fell asleep.

2015 – Marriage and the incident that cost Johnny Depp his fingertip

The most severe incident of the alleged abuse occurred a few months after the couple got married in February 2015.

Heard visited Depp in Australia, where he was shooting for a film. She alleged that over the course of three days, Depp assaulted her whilst high on ecstasy and alcohol. It was during this time that Depp injured the tip of his middle finger.

Depp testified that he and Heard were engaged in a verbal altercation, and that he was hiding from her in different rooms as well as bathrooms, since Heard kept approaching him. He added that he went to the bar and sat there, when Heard hurled a big vodka bottle at him, thereby severing his fingertip.

Heard, on the other hand, said that Depp injured himself after he smashed a wall-mounted phone with his hands. She alleged that Depp held her down on a counter-top and sexually assaulted her, shortly after, by penetrating her with a vodka bottle. She went on to claim that Depp used his bleeding finger to write demeaning words about her on the wall – photos of which were displayed during the trial.

2016 – Divorce and restraining order

Heard filed for divorce in 2016 alleging that she was subjected to domestic abuse and violence at the hands of Depp. She also obtained a restraining order against Depp. Just before she filed for divorce, Heard said that Depp threw his phone at her, and it hit her face and left a bruise.

Depp had turned Heard’s place upside-down and left, she alleged. Even though Heard called the police, she did not submit a statement since she wanted to avoid international media attention, Heard claimed. A few days later, Heard turned up at the courthouse with a bruised face and filed for a restraining order against Depp. The event garnered heavy media attention and branded Depp as an abuser.

Depp has denied all allegations and maintained that Heard’s step was a move to accelerate her career.

In August 2016, the duo reached a $7 million divorce settlement outside court and released a joint statement that said, “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Heard pledged the settlement money to two charity organisations: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Children’s Hospital, LA.

The divorce was finalised in 2017 and the couple parted ways.

2018 – The Sun calls Johnny Depp ‘Wife-Beater’; Amber Heard writes her opinion piece

In April 2018, UK tabloid The Sun published an article which called Depp a ‘wife-beater’. The actor sued the newspaper for libel in June 2018 and the case went to court in 2020.

However, that lawsuit was rejected by the British High Court. In its ruling, the court also observed that 12 of the 14 alleged domestic violence incidents had occurred.

In December 2018, Heard wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post and shared her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. Three statements from the op-ed piece, in addition to the headline of its digital copy, earned Depp’s wrath even though Heard had not explicitly named him.

Depp claimed that the op-ed cost him big Hollywood projects, including the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Heard, on the other hand, testified that her op-ed referred to her experiences in the aftermath of filing the restraining order, and was largely directed towards a system and not just Depp.

2019 – Johnny Depp files defamation suit against Amber Heard

Depp slapped Heard with a defamation suit for $50 million in early 2019, claiming that her article had impacted his career and cost him a few big projects.

“The op-ed depended on the central premise that Ms Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her,” the suit read. It added that the piece was Heard’s attempt to generate “an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity.”

In response to it, Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp.

2020 – Johnny Depp removed from Fantastic Beasts franchise

Both Depp and Heard have claimed that the biggest ramification of their prolonged legal battle was that it cost them films, brand endorsements, and their careers, as a whole.

In November 2020, Depp released a statement on Instagram announcing his exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. “I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros from my role Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request,” he wrote.

Actor Mads Mikkelsen was recast for the role of Grindelwald in the third film, The Secrets of Dumbledore.

2022 – The trial in the defamation suit begins

The trial in Depp’s defamation suit began on April 11 and has been conducted over a period of six weeks with a break from May 6 to May 16.

Both Depp and Heard testified, with Depp testifying first on April 19.

Amber Heard’s counterclaim:

It is to be noted that Heard’s counterclaim is primarily based on statements made by Adam Waldman, Depp’s former attorney, which came after Heard called the police alleging that Depp had attacked her and damaged her property.

Waldman’s statement on Heard was part of a 12-page article in a publication that read, “The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property.”

He added, “So, Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then, placed a second call to 911.”

Johnny Depp’s text message exchanges with Paul Bettany:

According to Heard, things got worse when Depp went back to drinking and accused her of having affairs with her friends and acquaintances. She also said Depp passed comments on her dressing and called her vile names.

Texts between Depp and actor Paul Bettany surfaced during the trial that supported this claim. “Let’s burn Amber,” Depp wrote in one of the text messages, and added, “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!”

“I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards, to make sure she’s dead,” Depp further wrote.

Heard’s lawyer J Benjamin Rottenborn also disclosed that Depp had referred to his ex-wife as an “idiot cow,” “ugly cunt,” and “worthless hooker,” in separate text messages to unnamed individuals.

Johnny Depp’s ousting from Pirates of the Caribbean:

Depp was dropped from big-budget projects like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean as well as the new Fantastic Beasts film, in wake of Heard’s allegations, and in the current defamation suit, Depp claims her op-ed piece resulted in his ousting from these movies.

Heard’s lawyers, however, contend that it was Depp’s unprofessional behaviour and his refusal to quit drugs and alcohol that lost him the projects, and not Heard’s allegations.

“Disney wasn’t going to cast him (Depp) in Pirates of the Caribbean 6. Months before the op-ed, Disney was considering dropping him. Disney had a dossier on him that had articles from the press and other information about Depp. And they didn’t have this article (Heard’s op-ed) in their files. It didn’t register with them just as it didn’t register with the public,” Heard’s representative said.

Heard’s attorney further cited an October 2018 report from the Daily Mail, predating the op-ed piece, according to which Depp was “out as Jack Sparrow.”

In response to this, Depp said, “I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me. Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So, I’m sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe.”

Conflicting accounts on Johnny Depp’s fingertip injury:

Depp claimed that Heard had hurled a vodka bottle at him, while Heard testified that Depp had smashed a wall-mounted phone with his hand, which had led to the injury. Both parties presented witnesses, friends and medical, who testified to their version of the events.

Heard’s sister, Whitney, and friend, Rocky Pennington, testified to seeing bruises and cuts on her after the incident allegedly occurred.

Medical experts such as Dr Richard Moore testified that Depp’s injury could not have been caused by a vodka bottle simply because his hand was placed palm-down on the table. He noted that considering the position of the finger, the fingernail bed should also have been injured, which wasn’t the case.

In addition to his reviews of records, Dr Moore testified that he came across a text exchange between Depp and the doctor who treated him for substance abuse, Dr David Kipper, which suggested that the actor had cut off his finger himself.

Meanwhile, in an audio-recording shared during the trial, Heard is heard telling Depp that no one would believe a man who would call himself a victim of domestic abuse.

Apart from extensively discussing the incident wherein he severed his fingertip, Depp also alleged that Heard or one of her friends defecated on their bed after he broke up with her. Heard claimed that it was the work of her two dogs, an explanation that Depp found ridiculous. “She brought up the fecal matter on the bed. She tried to blame it on the dogs,” Depp said. “They’re teacup Yorkies. They weigh about four pounds each. I lived with those dogs. I picked up their funk. It was not the dogs.”

Amber Heard alleges that Johnny Depp sexually assaulted her:

Heard alleged on day one of her testimony that Depp had sexually abused her and performed a “cavity search” on her against her will after accusing her of hiding his cocaine. Heard testified that Depp had ripped off her dress and underwear, and penetrated her with his fingers.

Dr Dawn Hughes, a forensic psychologist who testified for and ahead of Heard, confirmed that the latter had been sexually assaulted by Depp, and added that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being subjected to abuse at the hands of Depp.

Amber Heard says she failed to pay the ACLU and Children’s Hospital because Johnny Depp sued her:

Heard was supposed to divide her divorce settlement of $7 million between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

However, during the course of the ongoing trial, Heard testified that she was unable to fulfil her obligations and had only donated $1.3 million of the $3.5 million she had pledged to the ACLU after the divorce settlement. Depp’s legal counsel further noted that Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, paid $500,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, on behalf of Heard.

Amber Heard claims she fought to stay in Aquaman 2:

In her testimony, Heard said that the online attention generated by Adam Waldman’s statements, impacted her professional commitments. Cosmetic brand L’oreal had dropped her from its global campaign. Heard also said that she was left out from the press obligations for the series The Stand, and did not hear from the makers of Aquaman 2 regarding the film’s schedule.

Heard further testified that she believed her role as Mera in Aquaman 2 was scaled back, and said that she had to fight to stay in the film.

Walter Hamada, the head of Warner Bros in DC, testified that after the first film, there were discussions around Heard’s role in the sequel. The dialogue to recast Mera’s character arose from the lack of chemistry between Heard and co-star Jason Momoa, he said.

However, that did not impact Heard’s screen-time in the film, Hamada added. “The size of the role in the film that she has was determined in the early development of the script, which would have happened in 2018, I would say. The character’s involvement in the story was sort of what it was from the beginning.”

He added, “From the early stages of development of the script, the movie was built around the character of Arthur and the character Orm. Arthur being Jason Momoa and Orm being Patrick Wilson. They were always the co-leads of the movie.”

Heard further testified that in December 2014, she had a dream project with writer Clive Barker – a science fiction film. Depp was furious when he found out that she was supposed to meet Barker at his house, Heard said, and added that he had accused her of sleeping with the writer for the project.

Former TMZ employee testifies to receiving tip ahead of Amber Heard’s court visit seeking restraining order:

Apart from Hamada, Morgan Tremaine, who formerly worked with the entertainment platform TMZ, was called in as a rebuttal witness by Depp’s team.

Tremaine, whose testimony was questioned by TMZ in court on Wednesday, testified that he was instructed to dispatch photographers to a Los Angeles courthouse on May 27, 2016 – the day Heard filed for a temporary restraining order against Depp.

“We were trying to capture Amber leaving the courthouse and an alleged bruise on the right side of her face,” he said, and added, “She was going to sort of stop and turn towards the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face, the alleged bruise.”

Tremaine further testified to receiving a “video depicting Johnny Depp slamming some cabinets that was captured by Ms Heard.” He added that the video that was presented in court was edited.

“It was much shorter than the video that’s been played in this trial,” Tremaine testified. “There was a bit at the beginning that was played here in which Ms Heard is seemingly sort of setting up the camera and getting into position. And then, there’s a bit at the end where she’s seemingly snickering and looks at the camera. That part was not present in what we received.”

Kate Moss testifies for Johnny Depp:

While many high-profile witnesses were expected to testify, including Musk, Franco, and Bettany, none appeared at the Fairfax county court house in Virginia during the trial.

Actor and model Kate Moss, however, did testify for Depp on Wednesday. She recalled Depp helping her out after she had tumbled down a flight of stairs, sometime between 1993 and 1998, when they were together. Her testimony was relevant in that Heard’s team claimed that Depp had pushed her down the stairs.

Heard rested her case on Tuesday. Depp’s team, meanwhile, continues to present witnesses for rebuttal.

Female Actor Assault Case: ‘Kerala CM Has Assured To Stand By My Side,’ Says Survivor

The survivor in the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case met with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, and expressed her concerns regarding the investigation at the secretariat. 

The meeting took place just a few days after the survivor moved Kerala High Court, noting that there have been attempts to derail the case.

Addressing the media, the survivor said that the CM has given assurance to support her, in the ongoing case. “I am very satisfied. I believe I was able to convey all my concerns. He has given me complete assurance to stand by my side, in this case. I have faith in his words and I am very thankful for it,” she added. 

Further, the survivor clarified that she did not speak against the government in her petition to the HC, and sought an apology if it had come out that way. She reiterated that she had only submitted her concerns regarding the case in her petition.

“I wanted to meet him (CM) for a long time. But it did not happen due to various reasons. This is a crucial time, now and I felt I needed to meet with him. I have spoken to him about the case proceedings. He has assured that the government will lend all the support for the investigation. I have received a positive response. I hope that justice will be done,” she said.

In February 2017, the female actor, who predominantly works in Malayalam and Kannada cinema, was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car by a gang of men, en route Kochi from Thrissur.

Actor Dileep is currently facing trial as the chief conspirator in this case. At the end of 2021, the assault case gained momentum, and a further probe was launched, when some serious allegations were levelled against Dileep by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar. Later, a new case was also registered against the actor and his associates, for allegedly conspiring to kill the investigating officers in the assault case.

The survivor moved HC at the time, when the Crime Branch had concluded the further probe and filed an additional charge sheet, naming actor Dileep’s friend Sharath, as another accused in the case. Recently, he was arrested and released on bail for allegedly destroying crucial evidence.

Earlier, the survivor had critically commented on the state government’s intentions as well as the integrity of the trial court judge hearing the case, in a petition. She alleged that Dileep unlawfully influenced some of the politicians in the ruling party through his sources. Stating that, while the state government initially supported her, and allowed for a free, fair and full-fledged probe, the survivor pointed out that the system is reverting from doing the same, at present. 

The survivor also questioned  the integrity of the trial court judge and noted that “the actions of the presiding officer is highly suspicious.” 

On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court Justice Kauser Edappagath was recused from hearing the survivor’s petition, as she had sought for the case to be listed under a different bench before the Registrar.  

For a full timeline of the female actor abduction and assault case, see here.

Hyderabad Police Books Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma in Cheating Case

Hyderabad police has registered a cheating case against filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, a police official from the Miyapur Police Station, where the complaint has been registered, confirmed to Silverscreen India.

The filmmaker had allegedly cheated an individual from a production house after borrowing Rs 56 lakh from them, and subsequently, had not returned the amount.

Speaking to us, the official mentioned, “The complaint has been lodged by an individual named Koppada Sekhar Raju, who is the proprietor of Sekhara Art Creations. In his petition, he has stated that initially, he had first lent Rs 8 lakh to director Ram Gopal Varma, and later on, Rs 20 lakh back in 2020. After that, while he was making his film Disha Encounter, Ram Gopal Varma had persuaded him to invest an additional amount of Rs 28 lakh, and also said that he will be credited as a co-producer for the film. In total, Varma borrowed Rs 56 lakh, and an agreement was set that the money will be returned to the petitioner, once Disha Encounter is released.”

The official further noted that Sekhar Raju claimed that Varma has not returned his money as yet, and said that the director had “threatened” him over a phone call. “So, he (Sekhar Raju) approached the Honourable Court, and as per the directions, a case has been registered against Ram Gopal Varma,” he added, and said that an investigation is currently underway.

Additionally, a case has been filed against Varma, under sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 417 (punishment for cheating), 420 (cheating), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, Varma’s film Disha Encounter, which is based on the gang rape and murder of Hyderabad-based veterinarian Disha, ran into problems as the family members of the deceased victim staged a protest and demanded a ban on the film. They claimed that there were several similarities between the trailer of Varma’s film and the actual incident that took place.

However, the official did not comment on the status of the film.

T Rajendar to be Taken Abroad for Treatment After Experiencing Chest Pain, Says Silambarasan

Tamil actor, director, and producer T Rajendar who was recently admitted to a private hospital in Chennai after experiencing chest pain, will now be travelling abroad for further medical treatment, his son and actor  Silambarasan, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rajendar was admitted to the Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Porur, and had been undergoing treatment for a few days. Silambarasan’s statement comes at a time when several reports were doing rounds about Rajendar’s deteriorating health condition. Silamabarasan, in his statement, confirmed that his father is conscious and doing well.

While the hospital has not issued a health bulletin so far, Silambarasan, on Tuesday, said  that his father had been undergoing treatment at the hospital after experiencing chest pain. In his statement, Silambarasan added that during a recent medical examination, doctors reported bleeding in the abdomen and advised the family to take Rajendar abroad for further medical treatment.

“He will soon recover and meet you all. Thank you, everyone, for your love and prayers,” the statement, addressed to fans, press, and others concluded.

Silambarasan’s mother, Usha Rajendar also confirmed to the media that Rajendar is doing fine and is conscious, but will be taken abroad for treatment. “We will be taking him for two days and once visa is finalised. He is perfectly fine, and Silambarasan wanted him to take a rest,” she said.

67-year-old Rajendar has been inactive on the work front for the past few years. He was last seen in a cameo appearance in the 2017 action thriller Vizhithiru. However, he had recently released a song titled Nanga Vazhanuma, Saganuma Sollunga, speaking against the regime and ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka. Rajendar was also recently in the news when his car driver was arrested and later granted bail after his vehicle ran over a physically challenged pavement dweller in Chennai.

Producer Vijay Babu Rape Case: Here’s a Lookback at Major Developments in the Case

The Kerala High Court on Monday noted that it will consider producer-actor Vijay Babu, the rape accused‘s pre-arrest bail plea, but only after he produces his return air ticket to India. 

Earlier, on April 22, a female actor filed a complaint alleging that Babu had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year. On April 24, Babu fled to Dubai from Bengaluru. Soon after news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the accused also went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. Violating the law, Babu revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her. 

Following that, the accused moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail in the case. When the plea came up for hearing on Monday, Justice P Gopinath ordered the actor to submit his return air ticket to the court. 

Representing the actor, counsel S Rajeev informed the court that he was ready to appear before it. However, the court refused to accept the statement and questioned whether the accused was in India. The council responded that the actor was abroad when the case was registered, and that he is ready to return.

The court had also directed the actor to make himself available to the jurisdiction of the court. 

At this juncture, let’s look at the various developments that unfolded in the case since the day the survivor filed the complaint. 

The allegations 

The survivor said that she has been working in the Malayalam film industry as an actor for the past few years, via an anonymous post in a Facebook page named Women Against Sexual Harassment.

“He helped me through my personal and professional problems but sexually exploited me under the guise of this. His modus operandi was to lure and trap me by playing the role of a saviour, friend and a lover, and thereafter, intoxicating and sexually abusing me.”

Soon after the news surrounding the complaint broke, Babu went live on Facebook and said, “I am not afraid of this because I have not made any mistakes. I respect the law of the land but here, I am the victim and my name has come out. So, why shouldn’t the other person’s name come out too?”

“Let this be a break to #MeToo,” he added. He further claimed that the complainant got an opportunity to act in his film, after attending auditions and that he had never spoken to her at the time. He alleged that the woman messaged him several times and came to meet him, as well. He also said that he had 400 screenshots of her messages with him and was ready to make them public. Babu further added that he will be filing a counter defamation case against the actor. 

Another woman accuses Babu of sexual misconduct

A few days after the first allegation came forth, another woman accused Babu of sexual misconduct. She alleged that Babu was drunk and attempted to kiss her without her consent, when nobody was around. “I just stopped taking efforts to enter the Malayalam film industry after this, which was a dream for me until then.” She added that removing or punishing people like him would help break the image that the film industry is “not safe for women.”  

However, no further police complaint was filed against him. 

Babu absconds to Dubai 

Meanwhile, Kochi City Police Commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam confirmed that Babu had fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. The commissioner further said that Babu had not returned as yet, but they are expecting him to surrender before the law.

Babu had reportedly sent an e-mail to the police, seeking time until May 19 to appear for interrogation, informing them that he was abroad for business. When the police responded to the e-mail and directed him to share his location, Babu did not respond to it, the Commissioner had said. 

Three members quit ICC, after AMMA fails to take action against Babu

In light of the rape case against Babu, the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has urged the government to take measures to ensure the survivor’s safety, who is currently being attacked on social media. WCC also demanded that film bodies suspend the accused’s membership in their respective organisations.

It may be noted that Babu was elected late last year as an executive committee member of AMMA for the 2021-2024 term. In the wake of rape allegations against the producer, the pressure was mounted on the organisation to take actions on this matter. 

However, AMMA once again repeated its history of adhering to patriarchal behaviour. Instead of suspending Babu, the organisation announced that the actor had written to them stating that he wanted to stay away from the executive committee, in light of the allegations levelled against him. 

Protesting against AMMA’s inaction, actors Maala Parvathi, Shwetha Menon and Kukku Parameshwaran resigned from their positions as members of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), AMMA. 

In her resignation letter, Menon, who was the presiding officer of the ICC, said that she believed there was no relevance for the committee at the organisation.

Noting that the members of ICC recommended suspending the accused, Parvathi said, “I thought the executive committee would consider this. The press release issued by AMMA said that Babu has volunteered to stay away from the association, but it does not mention that the association had sought a resignation letter from him. This is not disciplinary action. I doubt if this sends out the right message to society.” 

Police issue Extradition Notice and impound Babu’s passport

On May 5, a Blue Corner notice was issued to the Interpol to extradite the accused. This is an enquiry notice issued to track, identify or obtain information about an absconding accused, and it is issued to the country where the criminal is currently suspected to be hiding.

Following which, a few weeks after, the actor-producer’s passport was impounded on May 20, owing to his failure to surrender before the law.

CH Nagaraju, Kochi City Police Commissioner, had told Silverscreen India, earlier that the police department has asked the External Affairs Ministry to inform the embassy of the accused’s destination country to cancel his visa, as well. “Once the passport is impounded, the visa also gets cancelled. So, if the destination country cancels his visa, they can deport him back to India. Besides, we are also getting information that he is likely to have fled Dubai,” he added.

After impounding the passport, the police said that they will be issuing a Red Corner notice if the accused doesn’t surrender before Tuesday. Meanwhile, there are recent updates that Babu, who had fled to Georgia, has returned to Dubai and is likely to surrender to the Kerala police, soon. 

Female Actor Assault Case: Survivor Moves Kerala HC Alleging State Govt’s Attempt to Derail Trial

The survivor in the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case, has moved the Kerala High Court, alleging that the state government has attempted to hamper with further investigation.

Actor Dileep is currently facing trial as the chief conspirator in this caseAt the end of 2021, the assault case gained momentum and a further probe was launched, when some serious allegations were levelled against Dileep by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar. Later, a new case was also registered against the actor and his associates, for allegedly conspiring to kill the investigating officers in the assault case.

Meanwhile, the survivor’s move comes in at the time, when the crime branch had concluded the further investigation and filed an additional charge sheet, naming actor Dileep’s friend Sharath as another accused in the case. Recently, he was arrested and released on bail for allegedly destroying crucial evidence. 

In a petition submitted on Monday, the survivor critically remarked on the state government’s intentions as well as the integrity of the trial court judge hearing the case.

She alleged that Dileep unlawfully influenced some of the politicians in the ruling party through his sources. Stating that while the state government initially supported her, and allowed for a free, fair and full-fledged probe, the survivor pointed out that the system is reverting from doing the same, at present. 

Further, she alleged that there has been pressure from high-ranking officials in the government to end the investigation halfway, due to which the investigating agency has filed the final report in a ‘half-baked manner.’ 

It may be noted that the probing team had earlier sought to question Dileep’s lawyers, who faced allegations of attempting to influence the witnesses. In her petition, the survivor has pointed out that this did not happen because the actor’s senior counsel and his associates had substantial influence within the government. 

She added that the counsel had received some assurance from political authorities that they would not be roped into the investigating process. 

“This clearly establishes the illegal nexus between the accused and the ruling front,” she stated. 

Questioning the integrity of the trial court judge, she said, “the act of the presiding officer is highly suspicious.” 

“The conduct of the presiding officer in obstructing the investigation in this matter clearly shows that she wants to illegally help the culprits. Her (the trial court judge) conducts in this regard if condoned or tolerated will be a disgrace to the judicial system, which assures equal protection under the law,” the survivor added.

The survivor stated that she has the fundamental right to get a fair trial and the right to justice and to know who has illegally accessed the memory card and tampered with it, as it is a violation of her fundamental right to privacy.

She added that it is the duty of the court to ascertain how the memory card was tampered with, while being in the custody of the court and find the culprits, who did so.

It was reported that the survivor sought a directive for the Additional Special Sessions Court in Ernakulam, to forward the application submitted by the investigating agency on April 4, along with the memory card to the State Forensic Science Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram. 

She also sought another directive for the state police chief to investigate the change in the hash value of the memory card, which was under the supervision of the High Court, and take stringent action against the culprits.

Update: On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court Justice Kauser Edappagath recused from hearing the petition moved by the survivor. According to reports, the survivor had sought for the case to be listed under a different Bench before the Registrar yet the case was listed to be adjudicated by Justice Edappagath. When the matter was cited, the judge recused from hearing the case.

For a full timeline of the female actor abduction and assault case, see here.

‘Power Rangers’ Actor Austin St John Arrested in Fraud Case

American actor Austin St John, who is popularly known for playing the Red Ranger, Jason Lee Scott, in the Power Ranger franchise instalments, was arrested for filing fraudulent applications seeking loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Deadline reported.

PPP is established by the US government’s Cares Act and it aims to provide small businesses with the resources they need to maintain their payroll, hire back employees who may have been laid off, and cover applicable overhead. According to the Department of Justice, John along with 17 others was charged with this fraudulent case and the team had allegedly transferred the money to the defraud scheme’s ringleaders.

The report noted that John had allegedly acquired $400,000 in the fraudulent PPP loans. If convicted, John would have to undergo imprisonment of upto 20 years. The Justice Department identified Michael Hill and Andrew Moran as the alleged leaders of the scheme. “Hill is alleged to have recruited co-conspirators to use an existing business or create a business to submit applications to obtain PPP funding,” Justice Department mentioned in the press release. 

They also stated that “Moran is alleged to have assisted his co-conspirators with the application paperwork, including fabricating supporting documentation and submitting the application through the online portals.”  The report further mentioned that a total of $3.5 million was obtained allegedly by all of the accused.

Meanwhile, in a statement, John’s lawyer, David Klaudt, said that he does not plead guilty. “An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and Mr St. John intends to vigorously defend himself against this allegation,” he added. The case is currently being investigated by the FBI and IRS – Criminal Investigations, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern District of Texas prosecuting.

The 47-year-old actor was cast as a teen superhero, the Red Power Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the first installment of the Power Rangers franchise, which was released on Fox Kids in 1993. He also appeared in various shows including the 2020 TV show Power Rangers Beast Morphers

Vijay Babu Rape Case: Police to Issue Red Corner Notice if No Surrender by Tuesday

Malayalam Producer-actor Vijay Babu, who is absconding after being charged in the rape case, will be issued a red corner notice if he does not surrender to the police by Tuesday.

According to a report by The Times of India,  Kochi City Commissioner CH Nagaraju said that they have a 90% confirmation about the accused’s location. It may be noted that there are hints that Babu had fled from Dubai to Georgia.

“We are in touch with the Indian Embassy and the concerned country’s embassy. We can give him a final chance to appear by May 24 and if that time expires, then we will have to issue a Red Corner notice. We almost know where he is,” Nagaraju added. 

He added, “It seems like the anticipatory bail plea is listed on Monday. His decision could be based on the decision in court. But we are going forward with our efforts to locate and bring him back”.

Earlier on Friday, speaking to Silverscreen India, the commissioner confirmed that Babu’s passport was impounded and he said that the police department had asked the External Affairs Ministry to inform the embassy of the accused’s destination country to cancel his visa, as well. “Once the passport is impounded, the visa also gets cancelled. So, if the destination country cancels his visa, they can deport him back to India.”

It may be noted that a female actor filed the complaint on April 22, alleging that Babu had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year.

After the news about the sexual assault allegation broke out, the producer went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. He flouted the law and named the survivor. Another case was also registered against Babu for revealing the identity of a rape victim. Babu then fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. The absconding actor has not surrendered so far. 

In the meantime, he has also moved the Kerala High Court seeking pre-arrest bail in the rape case. In the petition, the producer has alleged that the actress befriended him to land more roles in films. He has said that the sexual assault allegations were raised after she realised that she was not cast in any new movie.

Following this, the court sought the state government’s stand on the petition and decided to consider it after the summer vacation. Now, Justice P Gopinath will hear Babu’s petition on Monday.

Delhi Court Grants Bail to DU Professor Ratan Lal in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Mosque Case

A Delhi court on Saturday granted bail to Delhi University professor Ratan Lal and observed that his remarks on the shivling (statue of Hindu god Shiva) that was allegedly recovered from the Gyanvapi mosque, in Varanasi, are unlikely to incite feelings of hatred, according to Bar and Bench.

“For another person, the same post can appear to be shameful but may not incite the feeling of hatred towards another community. Similarly, different persons may consider the post differently without being enraged and may in fact feel sorry for the accused to have made an unwanted comment without considering the repercussions,” the order read.

The order further highlighted that the feeling of hurt felt by an individual cannot represent the entire group or community.

Lal, who is a professor of History at Hindu College, in Delhi University, tweeted in response to a Hindu group’s claims, last week, that a shivling was found at the Gyanvapi mosque, and wrote, “If this is a shivling, then it seems like Lord Shiva also underwent circumcision.”

As a result, Lal was arrested on Friday night by officers of north Delhi’s Cyber Police Station after an FIR was registered, on May 17, by a Delhi-based lawyer.

In his complaint, Vineet Jindal said that Lal’s remarks were “instigating and provoking”.

Lal was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code for a Facebook post.

In its order, however, the court noted that the “presence or absence of intention to create animosity/hatred by words is subjective in nature as is the perception of the recipient who reads/hears a statement.”

Lal was granted bail with a surety amount of Rs 50,000, and is directed to refrain from posting anything regarding the case on social media.

Apart from being a professor, Lal is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the media channel Ambedkar Nama.

Last week, Lal also tweeted that his 20-year-old son received threats on Facebook Messenger after his post on the issue.

Remembering Nedumuni Venu: Director’s Actor, Man of Improvisation & a Filmmaker with Great Vision

Sunday marks the National Award-winning Malayalam actor Nedumudi Venu‘s first birth anniversary, after his demise in October 2021. In a career spanning five decades, Venu has acted in over 500 films. He died at the age of 73 from post-Covid-19 complications and stomach-related ailments.

On this day, some of the technicians from the film industry spoke to Silverscreen India about their experiences and memories of working with the legendary actor in the recent past. Words fall short to explain how good an artist and human being Venu was. But they remember him as “a director’s actor, a man of improvisation and a filmmaker with a great vision”.

Filmmaker Anil Radhakrishnan Menon, who directed Venu in the national award-winning film North 24 Kaatham (2013), hails him as “a director’s actor and a visionary filmmaker.” Venu played a significant role named Gopalan, a retired school teacher, in the film.

Talking about why he opted to cast Venu, Anil says, “Venu chettan was a very safe choice. Before him, I approached two other people, and out of both, one said he did not understand the role and the other said something else. When I approached Venu chettan, I told him that I didn’t know how to narrate it to him, but I could make it. He encouraged me to tell the story in whichever way I could. After listening to me, he agreed to come on board.”

Speaking about his favourite scene of Venu’s in North 24 Kaatham, Anil says that it was his last scene in the film, where he walks home and sees that his wife was dead.

“In the scene, after a long walk, Venu stands in front of his wife’s body. Actually, he was standing in front of wooden boxes. There was no actor lying down. I did not want to show the wife. We shot that at midnight and there was no dialogue. He gave one of his best performances in that shot. There was a crowd while shooting that scene and almost all of them cried, after seeing his performance.”

The filmmaker notes that Venu had a great memory and observed the minute details to maintain continuity even while shooting in a non-linear pattern. Before the above-mentioned shot, there is an auto sequence, in which Venu gets offered a tissue by Fahadh Faasil.

“Venu chettan remembered that and carried it to the next scene, which was shot much later. He was a director’s actor. While dubbing for his last scene in the film, he said he wanted to see it fully. After watching it, he said he needed a break. He came back after some time, and told me that he might have acted in the film but the emotions he portrayed are so true to his own. While leaving the studio, he hugged me and said that every time, after dubbing for a film, he dug a hole and buried the character but he would always carry this character with him.”

Later, Anil went on cast Venu in three other films – Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi and Diwanjimoola Grand Prix.

“Venu chettan was there in all my films. I always write a character for him in my films. I feel I could bring out the best in his presence. Recently, I was writing a script and when he visited me, I told him about his character. He suggested another name for that character and said it would be apt. Now that he is no more, I have erased that character from the film because I cannot think of anyone else other than Venu chettan.”

Anil adds that the late artist had told him about his idea to direct a film, again. “During the shoot, Venu chettan used to give me suggestions that were so helpful for a debutant filmmaker. When I explained a scene to him, he first processed it as a filmmaker, and then, as an actor. He had a great vision for filmmaking. The last time that Venu chettan had come home, it was sometime back in January or February, 2021. He was very close to me. His loss is so personal to me.”

A few days before his demise, Venu completed shooting his part for Puzhu, starring Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu, in Ernakulam and returned to his home in Thiruvananthapuram. Puzhu’s director, Ratheena, in an earlier conversation with Silverscreen India, said that she considers herself fortunate to have directed such a legendary actor. “It was a memorable experience working with him. He told me that he was happy to hear a woman’s voice calling out ‘action’ and ‘cut’. He also said that many more women should come into this field, and predicted that in the coming years, the differentiation between ‘male filmmakers’ and ‘female filmmakers’ will fade away.”

She added, “He was not keeping well at the time, but I was so amazed by his performance. We shot with sync sound and the way he remembered his lines and enacted scenes was flawless. He was such a great actor that when we set frames, he just knew how to move accordingly and use the right expressions.”

Bheeshma Parvam was another film of Venu’s that was released posthumously on March 3, 2022. The actor played an antogonistic character named Kochery Iravippilla, and one of his expressions, which was used in the trailer, received great appreciation. 

In conversation with Silverscreen India, Ravi Shankar, the additional scenarist for Bheeshma Parvam, says, “When we wrote the script, it was our dream to have Venu chettan and KPAC Lalitha chechi pair up for those two characters. We were so excited to work with him, and thought that it would be good to have him for the role of Iravippilla, as he has not done a negative character, in the recent past.”

Shankar adds that Venu shot with the team for four days in a mana (traditional mansion) and the mood during the shoot was very surreal. “It was a memorable experience to see him perform for four days. He was a man of improvisation. For his character, we were able to establish that he was a kingpin in the past only with his mannerisms and dialogue delivery. No one better than him would have fit this role. All the expressions and mannerisms were his own improvisations.” 

Shankar says that besides acting, Venu was also interested in process of filmmaking, adding that the late actor observed the new-age working style, and was curiously learning the types of cameras and lenses used.

Further, Shankar notes that during Venu’s introduction scene, when Dileesh Pothen’s character enters the mana, a pre-lap voice of Venu reading Ramayanam is heard. “Venu chettan randomly took that Ramayanam book from the mana for the shot. Coincidentally, he happened to open the Aaranya Kaandam portion, which begins with a brief about death. It was apt for the film’s story. He showed it to us, and read a portion of it for the sound recordist to record. Later, after he passed away, our team reminisced this incident.”

The scenarist also mentions that Venu was young at heart, very punctual for shoot schedules and got along well with everyone on the sets. “At the time, Lalitha chechi was not well and had difficulty in hearing. So, while performing Venu chettan used to cover up for her if there was anything missing from her end. Before leaving, he gave us a hug and told us that he had enjoyed working with us. But it is upsetting that both of them were unable to see the film,” he adds.

A few months after his demise, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham was released in theatres. Venu essayed the role of a Zamorin, a humble king, who was caught between family tiffs and foreign forces.

Ahead of its release, Venu had said that he was happy to be a part of this historic film, in a video byte released by the makers. “Themes like love, romance, revenge that are adopted for works of art like cinema, theatre, poetry, and stories, are accepted across the world. Patriotism or love for the motherland is one such theme that is accepted on par with or even one step higher than those.” 

He also revealed that he played the role of Kozhikode Samoothiri (aka Zamorin), the hereditary monarch of the kingdom of Kozhikode, after previously doing so in films like His Highness Abdullah (1990) and Daya (1998). 

Reminiscing the memories with the actor, Marakkar’s co-writer, Ani Sasi, son of late Malayalam filmmaker I.V. Sasi, says, “For the Zamorin’s role we couldn’t think of anyone else so regal, other than Venu sir. We did not want Zamorin to be like a typical, standoffish king. We wanted him to have a graceful, calm demeanour, who naturally portrayed the aura of ownership. Venu sir got that instantly. When he came in for the first shot, it was so natural and perfect.”

Ani was associated with Venu for a decade and worked with him in films directed by Priyadarshan

“My father taught me Malayalam alphabets and Venu sir taught me to read stories. He encouraged me to read a lot to become more fluent. That is one of my most cherished memories. While shooting, he would call me to the caravan and ask me to read his lines. That’s how he encouraged me to incline toward reading. Once, I remember, I was not able to get a Malayalam word. I didn’t even know what it meant. But he taught me that. It is called ‘Mizhikasya‘.”

The filmmaker also says that Venu was an extremely committed actor that even when he read the script, he used to analyse how that particular character would deliver the lines and more. “His acting was profound. Besides, in between shots he used to tell old stories from his life and I remember some of the funny anecdotes shared by him.”

Venu also worked in a family musical film titled Ente Mazha directed by debutant Sunil Subramanian. On working with the late actor, the Sunil says, “It was a wonderful experience. I remember the Katcheri song in the film that was planned to be shot in two days. But, with the cooperation of Venu sir and Manoj, we were able to finish it within one day.”

Venu made his acting debut in the 1978 film Thambu directed by Aravindan. He later rose to fame with his performance in filmmaker Bharathan’s Aaravam, Padmarajan’s Oridathoru Phayalwan and Kallan Pavithran. Venu had also acted in some television serials.

Venu had also written screenplays for films like Kattathe Kilikkoodu, Theertham, Sruthi, Ambada Njaane!, Oru Katha Oru Nunnakkatha, Savidham and Angane Oru Avadhikkalathu. He also directed the 1989 film, Pooram.

Venu is the recipient of three National Film Awards for his performance in His Highness Abdullah (1990), Margam (2003) and his narration in Minukku (2006). He also won six Kerala State Film Awards for films Chamaram (1980), Vidaparayum Munpe (1981), Oru Minnaminungite Nurunguvettam (1987), Bharatham and Santhwanam (1991), Thenmavin Kombath (1994) and Margam(2003). He had also acted in several Tamil films including Sarvam Thaala MayamSilambaattamPoi Solla Porom, Anniyan, Mogamul and Navarasa in the part titled Summer of ‘92. His upcoming films include Jack N’ Jill and Koppam.

Dhanush Paternity Row: The Actor Sends Legal Notice to Elderly Couple, Who Claim Him to Be Their Biological Son

In light of Dhanush‘s paternity row, the actor and his father Kasthoori Raja on Friday, sent a legal notice to the elderly couple, who claimed the actor to be their long-lost estranged son.

The notice warned the couple that if they fail to issue a press statement denying their allegations, a defamation case will be filed against them.

As is widely believed and asserted by the actor himself, Dhanush is the son of Tamil filmmaker Kasthoori Raja and his wife Vijayalakshmi. He was born as Venkatesh Prabhu to the couple on July 28, 1983. However, in 2016, Dhanush’s paternal roots was called into question, when a couple named R Kathiresan and K Meenakshi from Melur, Tamil Nadu, filed a legal complaint at Madras High Court, claiming that Dhanush was their estranged biological son, who ran away to Chennai in order to become an actor.

While the case is still pending in court, in a new development, Dhanush and Kasthoori Raja, on Friday, sent a legal notice to the couple, through their advocate Haja Mohideen Gisthi.

As per the notice accessed by Silverscreen India, Dhanush and Kasthoori Raja, once again, asserted the actor’s birth details and said that he attended Thai Sathya Matriculation School, Saligramam. The notice further said that Dhanush entered the film industry in 2002 with Thulluvadho Ilamai, which became a box-office hit, after which he officially changed his name to K Dhanush, by issuing a Gazette Notification at the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette dated December 17, 2003.

The notice claimed that in order to “cause embarrassment and anguish” to Kasthoori Raja, Vijayalakshmi and Dhanush, and to “cause hardship, to blackmail and exhort money” from them, the couple “preferred frivolous and vexatious” petition before the Judicial Magistrate of Melur by making “false, fraudulent and fabulously specious claims” that the actor is their biological son.

The notice further read, “Even though the claim is false and without any semblance of truth or merit in Learned Judicial Magistrate, Melur issued notice to my client Mr K Dhanush. Not contended with filing the petition both of you went to the press and media and claimed undue publicity. Both my clients were put to suffer great humiliation and embarrassment besides mental agony.”

Even as the Court proceedings were quashed, it stated that the couple “enacted several dramas” to show that Dhanush is their biological son. The couple had also claimed a monthly maintenance amount of Rs 65,000 per month from Dhanush and arrears of Rs 7,85,000.

“You described my client Mr. Kasthoori Raja as a film mafia and stated that he tried to murder both of you.  These allegations are ex facie false, factually untenable and legally unsustainable and are made with a view to defame my client No.1 and cause a serious dent in his reputation,” it added.

Giving the couple a warning as to not make false claims, the notice stated that Dhanush and his father will initiate civil and criminal proceedings for “defamation and loss of reputation” and demand Rs 10 crore as compensation, if they consistently kept up their allegations. It also demanded the couple to issue a press statement, noting that all the allegations made by them were false and issue an apology for the same.