The Big Story: Bollywood’s love-hate relationship with drugs! – Times of India

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With Rhea Chakraborty claiming that Sushant Singh Rajput was addicted to marijuana, the spotlight is now on Bollywood’s alleged drug link. It is believed that the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) is preparing a dossier of Bollywood celebrities whose names were reportedly mentioned by Rhea in her statement. Bollywood’s link to drugs is not new and there have been confessions and arrests of film stars in the past. The prominent names include Sanjay Dutt who admitted to being a drug addict and Fardeen Khan who was arrested for acquiring one gram of cocaine.

Drugs and the Bollywood connect
One of the first actors to ever admit that he was addicted to drugs, Sanjay Dutt, quit after a lung collapse in the 80s. Now he propagates ‘say no to drugs and be high on life’. Rajkumar Hirani’s 2018 film Sanju chronicled Sanjay Dutt’s drug addiction. A close friend of the actor mentions, “Whenever the actor visits any college or institution, he openly addresses the students that he was a drug addict and shares his experience and tells the students to not go close to the menace. He even tells them that peer pressure may tempt you but don’t fall for it.” Dutt is now a part of the Drug-free India campaign promoted by The Art of Living Foundation. Whenever any drug peddler is arrested, it is immediately alleged that he supplied drugs to Bollywood personalities and more often it is true. An actress who is now settled abroad used to snort with her businessman boyfriend and had become a nuisance for the society where they lived together. There are a number of filmmakers and artists who smoke and do drugs in the garb of creative kick. Actress Kunicka Lall says that Bollywood is not the only industry that has a drug connection. “In today’s time we are living a highly stressful life coupled with aspirations. Drugs are everywhere – be it media, corporate world, or page 3 parties. Bollywood has always been an insecure place with an unsure life”, says the actress.

Jackie Shroff smoked hash
She mentions that today’s stars need to maintain their physique and alcohol is not an option for them so the only option they are left with, which will help them not to put on weight, yet give that effect is drugs. Kunicka mentions that the CBD oil which was mentioned in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case is used for relaxation. She recalls the time when her co-actor Jackie Shroff freely indulged in hash on the sets of his film. “Jackie Shroff smoked hash but that did not affect his work; though he would have mood swings.”

Kunicka adds, “Ganja is part of our culture and if you go to Kumbh, you will get ganja and charas worth crores of rupees and if you go to Kumbh Mela you will find ganja on your plate. So what’s the big deal?”

Fardeen Khan to Mamta Kulkarni – a history of cases
The Supreme Court on August 29 dismissed a special leave petition of actress Mamta Kulkarni and requested the Bombay High Court to expedite the hearing of her 2018 quashing petition against drug charges. Mamta has been named as part of an international drug conspiracy and is alleged to have attended a meeting on transportation of drugs from Solapur to Kenya. It is known that Mamta is married to international drug lord Vicky Goswami who is currently lodged in a US prison.

There was a big controversy surrounding Fardeen Khan in the year 2001 when he was arrested by the Mumbai police for attempting to buy one gram of cocaine. The actor had to undergo a detoxification course and was later granted bail with immunity in 2012. Fardeen had told TOI then that he was relieved and he was only attempting to buy one gram of cocaine and there was no drug found on him.

Vijay Raaz was detained at Abu Dhabi airport after he was caught for possession of drugs. The incident happened when the actor had landed in Abu Dhabi for the shooting of Vikram Bhatt’s film ‘Deewane Hue Paagal’. The actor was jailed for a few days and could secure his release only after the Indian government intervened. The actor on his arrival denied taking drugs and claimed he did know who put those drugs in his bag.

A filmmaker says, “Ever since I can remember, the film industry has been all that is bad in the oh-so-pure-world. We are the only ones who are promiscuous, the only ones who promote violence, the only ones who don’t pay taxes, and now the only ones who do drugs. I suppose we are doing what we are supposed to do in these terrible times – we are providing entertainment. This time at the cost of ourselves.”

Drugs and alcohol are part of Bollywood parties. So, it is not surprising that there are suppliers who are aware to whom the stuff is provided. There are also drugs that have been named after some celebrities and more often than not actors have been spotted going to lounges with security fiercely guarding the door.

In 2012, some television actors and star kids were caught when the police raided a rave party in Juhu. The TV couple had tested positive along with a star kid but they later clarified that the wife was on medication as they were planning to have a baby. A police informer who had tipped off said that not only celebrities but children of some government officials were also caught in the raid. So, it is not only the glamour industry but there are people from other industries also who consume drugs. The informer further mentions that all kinds of drugs are easily available and he can easily procure them.

Kangana’s statement on drugs

Kangana Ranaut recently made a statement that 99% of Bollywood takes drugs and demanded a drug test on them. The Manikarnika actress also claimed that she does not do drugs. But Adhyayan Suman in one of his interviews had alleged that the actress used to do drugs and also claimed that Kangana had asked him to consume drugs. The Maharashtra government now wants Kangana to do a drug test and have taken Adhyayan’s interview as evidence against her. Adhyayan has not been responding to the media but has released a video message saying that it was his dark past and he does not want to be dragged into it. He also mentions that he has got nothing to do with Kangana but adds that both his aim and Kangana’s mission is only to get justice for Sushant Singh Rajput.

A senior actor refuted all claims made by Kangana Ranaut. “I have worked in the film industry for over three decades but I have not witnessed anyone do drugs in front of me. Maybe I have not worked with the younger actors but no one can pass judgment on us,” says the actor on condition of anonymity.

It is also alleged that those belonging to the music and the fashion industry too are known to consume drugs. Singer Yo Yo Honey Singh had earlier confessed to addiction and was treated at home by his family. A few years back, DJ Aqeel was detained in Dubai for possession of party drug Ecstasy. Fashion Designer Farah Khan Ali, Aqeel’s wife, when contacted said, “Aqeel was not arrested but detained in Dubai for having in his possession an empty packet of 0.04 gm of MDMA on his person which we believe was put there, as when they tested him he showed no trace of any drugs in his system and was let off without any charges. He stayed during that time at the airport detention and was never sent to jail. The amount found on him was not even enough for consumption and since he tested negative we suspect that he was framed.”

But when told that sweeping statements are being made on the film industry of being junkies, Farah says, “It is easy to make the film industry a target. I’m sure there are scores of politicians, industrialists, musicians, and Sadhus doing the same. So yes, we are living in double standards. I do not endorse drugs and never have and if a clean-up is going to be done, it should be done in a manner that serves everyone equally and no exceptions are made. The problem lies when this drug issue is being made part of a political witch hunt which in my opinion is preposterous.”

In the industry, cocaine tops the list followed by bud which is a more purified form of marijuana. The other popular drugs are heroin and MDMA. Cocaine also is one of the most popular drugs in high-end parties and the glamour world. But what is the consumption share of Bollywood? There are no statistics to gauge the%age of drug consumption happening in Bollywood, but a senior NCB official reveals, “It is difficult to put a number to it, but I can say that only 7% of the total drugs are confiscated and the rest goes back to the market.”

Consumption of drugs remains an open secret in the industry. The NCB has an opportunity to put an end to this menace once and for all.

Recently, KPS Malhotra, from the Operations department of NCB clarified that the department is not preparing a list of Bollywood celebrities. He said, “We have not prepared any Bollywood list. The list earlier prepared was of peddlers and traffickers and it’s getting confused with Bollywood.”

But a former senior officer who was one of those who led the shootout at Wadala said that all the high society people consumed drugs and the gangsters used to get high on cocaine. And there were some who supplied contraband to Bollywood in the 80s and 90s. He also claimed to have caught Sanjay Dutt with contraband but that time there was no NDPS act. Therefore they were fined and let off. But he questions the arrest of Rhea Chakraborty and her not getting bail. He said that she was not found in possession of any drugs and that is precisely the reason why the whole of Bollywood quiet, worrying who is next.

“Actors do experiment with drugs, once they reach saturation and they want to try something else. Actors are very conscious of how they look irrespective of what is happening inside of them. They resort to drugs and it is considered to be cool which I completely disagree with. There are quite a few of them who take drugs to be in the circuit and if you are called for a party and don’t do drugs you are dropped from the guest list. People want to take drugs because they want to belong to the elitist group”, said Kunicka.

In India, Cannabis is used as Bhang, which is legally available in many states. Ganja and Charas are illegal as per the international drug conventions as well as the Indian law (the NDPS Act, 1985). About 2.8% of Indians aged 10-75 years (3.1 crore individuals) are current users of any cannabis product. More people use bhang (2%) as compared to charas/ganja (1.2%). There is a preponderance of men as consumers of cannabis.

In the case of cannabis use too, the variations across the states are visible. States with a higher-than-national prevalence of cannabis use are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi. Interestingly, there is not necessarily a consistent association between the prevalence figures for bhang and ganja/charas used across different states. In general, the trend in most of the states of the country is a higher prevalence of bhang as compared to ganja /charas. However, the reverse trend is visible in some of the eastern and north-eastern states (like West Bengal).

A very small proportion of Indians are estimated to be current users of cocaine (Males – 0.18%, Females – 0.01%). This would mean about 10.7 lakh current users of cocaine in the country. The proportion of people using cocaine in harmful and dependent patterns is also correspondingly small (0.03%, or 3.2 lakh individuals). States with sizable numbers of current cocaine users are Maharashtra (90,000), Punjab (27,000), and Rajasthan (10,000).

Alcohol use: 16 cr

Cannabis Use: 3.1cr

Bhang: 40 lakh

Charas/ganja: 50 lakh

Opium: 11 lakh

Heroin: 63 lakh

(source: Magnitude of Substance Abuse Report 2019. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences)

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