Tollywood drug scandal: All the stars facing interrogation and everything you need to know so far

After government officials busted a major drug cartel in Hyderabad, several big names from the Telugu film industry have come under the scanner. Puri Jagannadh, Charmee Kaur, Ravi Teja among others have been summoned for questioning.

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru | Updated: July 25, 2017 11:14 am
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The Telugu film industry is currently reeling under a drug scandal after officials of Telangana Excise (Enforcement) Department busted a major drug racket that supplied high-end drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and methylenedioxy- methamphetamine (MDMA) to people in the corporate sector, students and celebrities.

The police have, reportedly, identified film personalities who may have been involved in the drug racket either in the capacity of a consumer or supplier. The Hyderabad drug bust became sensational after the list of celebrity names was leaked to the media. About 15 celebrities were served notices to appear before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Excise department for questioning.

At least 12 of the biggest names in Telugu cinema have been confirmed to be part of the drug investigation, which is led by Enforcement Director Akun Sabharwal. The officials have summoned the celebrities based on the details they gathered from the kingpin of Hyderabad drug racket Calvin Mascarenhas, who was arrested during the raid earlier this year.

The questioning of celebrities began on July 19 and will go on until July 27. The officials are also collecting the samples of hair, blood and nail for the purpose of forensic examination from these celebrities.

Film celebrities in the dock:

Director Puri Jagannadh was the first celebrity to be questioned in the case. The questioning went on for more than 10 hours. He reportedly told the officials that he knew Calvin as an event manager. But, in a video message that he shared on social media, Puri claimed that he told the officials that he never met Calvin or had any dealings with him. He also added that he never indulged in drug abuse.

Cinematographer Shyam K Naidu appeared before SIT on June 20. He was accompanied by his personal secretary and a relative and was questioned about his connection with Calvin. Shyam has not reacted to the controversy yet.

Actor P Subbaraju of Baahubali fame was also questioned by the SIT officials on July 21. He was grilled for about 12 hours over his alleged connection with Calvin. Talking to TV 9, Subbaraju said he was shocked when he received the notice in the drug probe. “In the notice, they are claiming to have found my number in Calvin’s contacts. I don’t know who this person is, and I don’t know how he has my number. I respect the law and I’m confident of facing the system. I did not do any wrong. They have asked me to meet them on July 21, and I am willing to go,” he said.

Actor Tarun was quizzed on July 22 for about 13 hours, which is said to be the longest integration session in the case. He had opened a pub in 2009 in Banjara Hills area of Hyderabad. As the role of pubs in drug peddling came under scanner in the past, he had sold his stakes.

Actor Pallapollu Navdeep appeared before the SIT on July 24. He was reportedly not surprised when he was called in for questioning in the drug case. When he read about Calvin’s arrest, Pallapollu knew that he will be made part of the investigation as he had known Calvin as an event manager and worked with him for an event.

“It is usual to sensationalise news as soon as there are film people involved, me being involved in events and working with some wrong event managers i can understand why this happened! It’s a matter of time before this is sorted .. requesting media and people to have patience” (sic),” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Actor Charmee Kaur is expected to appear before the SIT on July 26. However, she moved the Hyderabad High Court on Monday requesting the court to direct the officials to question her in presence of her lawyer. And she also requested the court that her blood sample should not be taken without her permission.

The SIT officials were not able to locate the whereabouts of dancer Mumaith Khan as she was not available at her residential addresses to serve the notice. Mumaith had said she did not receive any notice and she was not involved in any substance abuse. However, SIT officials were shocked when they found out she was one of the contestants of the first season of Bigg Boss Telugu.

The officials reached out to Mumaith through show managers and have slated her questioning for July 27. She will be leaving the show but there is a possibility she may stage a comeback on the show after the investigation.

Actor Ravi Teja will be questioned this week as well. While the actor is yet to react to the controversy, his mother came out in support alleging a conspiracy against her son. “My son is innocent. He is being targeted. He will appear before the special investigation team,” Rajalakshmi told India Today. “There is nothing to hide so we are not worried. But we are shattered that his name has been dragged in this entire episode. We will face it legally. Don’t know how his name was involved.”

Actor Tanish, singer Ananda Krishna Nandu, art director Chinna N Dharmarao were among the names on the list that was leaked to the media. These celebrities will be questioned this week. The SIT officials may call in more celebrities for questioning as the investigation progresses.

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