Industry jittery but plays down fears

New Delhi :  On Tuesday evening, the buzz was that more ‘satta’ money is riding on the Salman Khan verdict than on Tuesday’s IPL match between Mumbai and Delhi. According to a source close to betting circles, the odds were against an acquittal and seemed to vary from city to city, largely determined by the ‘loyal’ fan following.

The film industry, too, is jittery with at least Rs.200 crores riding on his two forthcoming releases. But Bollywood does not wish to admit as much, since most producers do not want to be seen as letting their ‘Dabbang’ down.

So, it is taking refuge in the slow legal processes and downplaying the palpable tension with the likes of industry expert Amod Mehra stating that no one can imagine Salman being lodged behind bars.

“There is no panic in the film industry or in anybody’s mind. It is because we all are very clear that there are other ways to come out of jail, such as on bail. So there is no question of panicking over his arrest as of now,” Mehra said.

On the same note, another trade expert, Vinod Mirani, said that even if he is sentenced by the court, Salman is unlikely to be sent to jail soon.

“If the decision is not in his favour, he will appeal to a higher court,’’ Mirani said.

A glance at his professional assignments show Salman is gearing up for several offerings at the box office this year. Two of his much-anticipated films — “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” and “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” — are nearing completion.

“The total cost of the two films would be around Rs. 200 crore plus. So that is the amount riding on him at present,” Mehra said.

If rumoured projects like Anees Bazmee’s “No Entry” sequel and “Kick” sequel are taken into account, the figures shoot up. But Mirani insists that there is no cause to worry as of now. “It takes a lot of time to send somebody to jail. It can even take ten years,” he reasoned.

Mehra cited Sanjay Dutt’s example, who was sent to prison after several years and said it will take about 10-15 years for Salman to go behind bars. ‘‘By then, he will be over 60 years old.”

The film industry is giving the impression it is not worried, but if industry reports are true, 49-year-old Salman has not been accepting any new projects.

The trouble for the actor, who enjoys wide female fan following with his dance moves and witty one-liners, will not be over with the accident case.

The dark clouds of Blackbuck case is still hovering over him. The actor is facing trial for hunting a black buck during the shooting of “Hum Saath Saath Hain” in 1998.

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