Bollywood’s ‘Deadly Dutt’ back on Indian screens after jail time

This file photo taken on August 21, 2017 shows Indian Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt during the recording of the song 'Ganesh Aarti' for Hindi film 'Bhoomi' in Mumbai. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2017
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Bollywood’s ‘Deadly Dutt’ back on Indian screens after jail time

MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt returned to Indian cinema screens Friday in his first film since serving four years in prison for possessing weapons supplied by gangsters behind the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.
The disgraced star, 58, plays the role of a father who seeks revenge for the gang-rape of his daughter in Hindi-language action thriller “Bhoomi,” directed by Omung Kumar.
Dutt walked free from jail in 2016. He last appeared in a film in 2014 and promoters trailed Friday’s release with a poster on social media declaring: “The Beast is Back.”
“I’m very excited to see ‘Bhoomi’. I’m sure it will be a big hit,” said ardent fan Sandeep Bachche, who has a tattoo of Dutt’s face inked on his left arm.
The rickshaw driver has another tattoo referencing the title of one of Dutt’s most famous film roles while the inside of his three-wheeler is covered in posters of the actor.
“I have booked tickets to watch three consecutive shows on the first day,” Bachche told AFP, admitting that he would be watching them alone.
Dutt shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt.”
He is best known for playing a mobster with a heart of gold in the popular “Munna Bhai” series.
Reviewers appeared lukewarm about “Bhoomi” but praised Dutt’s performance.
“Watch Bhoomi for Dutt. He’s from that era of larger-than-life heroes who get you to whistle even when he is killing people,” said a review in the Times of India.
Dutt was convicted in 2006 of holding guns supplied by mafia bosses who orchestrated the 1993 bombings that killed 257 people.
The attacks were believed to have been staged by Muslim underworld figures in retaliation for religious riots in which mainly Muslims died, following the razing of an ancient mosque in north India.
Dutt insisted the two guns were only meant to protect his family in the tense atmosphere in Mumbai following the mosque’s destruction.
He was originally given a six-year term and spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in 2007, pending an appeal.
In March 2013, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction but cut his prison term to five years, sending Dutt back to jail to serve the remaining three-and-a half years of his sentence.
He was granted several months of freedom at different times to work on unfinished Bollywood movies and his last film appearance came in science fiction hit “PK” three years ago.
Dutt was released in February last year, eight months ahead of schedule for good behavior. Activists claimed he was given special treatment because of his celebrity status.
He has several films in the pipeline including “Munna Bhai 3,” “Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3,” “Malang” and “Torbaaz.”
A biopic is also being made on his troubled life, with Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor playing Dutt.


Singer Lamjarred case reopens Morocco violence against women debate

Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred (C) is escorted by police officers at the courthouse in Aix-en-Provence on September 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 55 sec ago
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Singer Lamjarred case reopens Morocco violence against women debate

  • Despite the string of allegations against him, the singer’s tunes have still been played on radio stations and Moroccan media have enthused over the release of his latest singles

RABAT: Still adored at home despite three separate rape charges in France, Moroccan pop star Saad Lamjarred’s latest arrest has reignited a debate on violence against women in the North African kingdom.
Following similar accusations in October 2016 and April 2017, Lamjarred was re-arrested last week in southern France on charges he had raped a woman in a Riviera hotel.
The superstar’s detention comes just days after Morocco was rocked by claims from a teenage girl, Khadija Okkarou, that she had been kidnapped and gang-raped by a group of men from her village.
Lamjarred’s detention has sparked a social media campaign seeking to ban his songs from Morocco’s airwaves using the hashtags #masaktach (“we will not be silenced“) and #LamjarredOut.
But the push has done little to dampen the popularity of the 33-year-old singer, whose hit “Lmaallem” has been viewed more than 660 million times on YouTube.
“The case of Saad Lamjarred is a symbol that brings together everything connected to rape culture and impunity,” said Laila Slassi, one of the campaign’s initiators.
Despite the string of allegations against him, the singer’s tunes have still been played on radio stations and Moroccan media have enthused over the release of his latest singles.
In August, he was prominently featured in a video of artists put out for the birthday of King Mohammed VI — who has helped cover the pop star’s legal fees.
Lamjarred’s fans remain convinced the singer, from a family of artists in the capital Rabat, is the target of a conspiracy and that his alleged victims seek to benefit from his fame.

“He’s famous, good looking, so we support him... it’s an emblematic case of sympathy for the aggressor in a society where we always find excuses for men,” psychologist Sanaa El Aji, a specialist in gender issues, told AFP.
Slassi said the media was “promoting a man accused of sexual violence” instead of role models.
Under pressure, Morocco’s Radio 2M has pulled Lamjarred from its airwaves, saying it “no longer promotes (the singer) since the case is in the hands of the judiciary.”
But Hit Radio, the kingdom’s most popular, was less clear about its stance.
The station’s head Younes Boumehdi initially said he would not broadcast the superstar’s hits, but quickly added the measure would only last until “things calm down.”
An on-air poll showed 68 percent of Hit Radio’s audience wanted to continue listening to the star, regardless of the charges.
Ultra-famous in the Arab world, Lamjarred “is still among the most popular on YouTube, and for many of his fans he will remain an icon, even if he is sentenced,” Boumehdi told AFP.
The case has sparked “a lot of emotion because Saad Lamjarred has the image of a modern man with a new message,” he said.
Radio Chada FM, which claims to be a leader in Morocco’s arts and music scenes, said it would not take Lamjarred off the air “until he has been tried, in the name of the presumption of innocence.”
But not everyone agrees.
“His song lyrics glorify male domination among couples... and the submission of the woman,” business leader Mehdi Alami wrote in a post shared widely on social media.

“It amounts to discrediting the word of women,” said rights activist Betty Lachgar.
Many like Lachgar have drawn comparisons between the #masaktach campaign and the global #metoo movement against sexual harassment.
But in Morocco, “most people don’t believe in this type of thinking, (for them), the harassers are the victims,” said El Aji.
Campaign organizer Slassi says the #masaktach movement gained momentum after the “Khadija affair.”
The 17-year-old was at the center of a storm last month after she accused a group of men from her village in central Morocco of having kidnapped, raped and tortured her over a two-month period.
Her 12 assailants have confessed to having imprisoned and raped her, and of threatening her with death, according to her lawyers.
“But for many, she remains the main culprit,” said Laila.