Bollywood film-makers under scanner of Mumbai Customs for gun blazing and exploding car scenes without valid license

The arrest of Bollywood stunt woman Firoza Khatun (Free Press Journal edition 26 May 2022) for importing consignments of 78,000 blank cartridges without a valid arms license has opened pandora's box of illegal imports of dummy weapons and ammunitions.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Monday, May 30, 2022, 10:11 PM IST
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Bollywood film-makers under scanner of Mumbai Customs for gun blazing and exploding car scenes without valid license | Unsplash

Top Bollywood filmmakers are on the cross hair of the Mumbai Customs for gun blazing and exploding car scenes in action-packed blocked busters without a valid license of the Arms Rule 2016.

The hell fire and explosions of typical masala films need dummy guns with tons of blank cartridges and controlled explosives for the action films need a special arms license for theatrical, film or television production under the amended Arms Rule 2016 for the prop weapons.

The arrest of Bollywood stunt woman Firoza Khatun (Free Press Journal edition 26 May 2022) for importing consignments of 78,000 blank cartridges without a valid arms license has opened pandora's box of illegal imports of dummy weapons and ammunitions.

“The accused imported three consignments of 78,000 blank cartridges in the pandemic lockdown - September to November 2021 – when there was laxity in the checking of imported goods at Customs cargo, with most officers having been detected Covid-positive. The restricted blank cartridges were misdeclared as dummy air pellets to subvert the Arms Rule for dummy weapons and blank ammunition,” explained a senior Customs officer supervising the investigation into the import of dummy weapons and blank ammunition for theatrical, film or television production.

Special Investigation and Intelligence Branch (SIIB) of Mumbai Customs at the Air Cargo Complex stumbled on the irregularities when Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad gave a damning report of the imported consignment “dummy air pellets” representative samples were sent for testing.

“When a blank cartridge is fired, high-pressure gas is discharged from the case and progresses down the barrel. The effect of the super-heated high-pressure gas, as well as unburnt particles of propellant, can cause fatal injuries and can be dangerous to human life. Thus, the goods are dangerous in nature and can cause fatal injuries to human life,” opined the CFSL report.

Indian films have come a long way from single or double barrel bolt action guns for the dacoits and revolvers for police officers. Today a good action film or cop drama film will add AK- 47 rifles, semi-automatic machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades and automatic pistols to the arsenal props imported from foreign gun manufacturers who make dummies for training and arms exhibitions.

“New actors want to do action movies to climb the ladder of stardom,” explained a veteran dummy guns supplier and member of the Movie Action Dummy Effects Association (MADEA) with over 650 members supplying police certified prop guns for Film and TV shoots in India. “We only use dummy guns that have police certificates. Bullets do not contain lead and only make a loud sound and flash on pulling the trigger,” he insists.

“The prop guns have a solid steel rod instead of a functional barrel. The dummy is designed with a specialised chamber for blank ammunition to produce a gunshot sound and realistic gun movements with flash and smoke of venting gas and empty shells,” reads the description of the dummy prop guns. Mumbai Police provides certificates for Idiot Proof guns to be used for films and TV shoots.

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