Vijay Raaz & Bollywood drug scandals

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 21, 2005 06:20 hrs

Bollywood and scandal have never been strangers to each other.

From a divorce to a kiss, when every episode of a star's life comes under the scanner, "drug-incidents" tend to stand out. Not that drugs have not been a part of the industry. On reel or off it.

When Zeenat Aman puffed on marijuana while singing Dum maro dum, the nation sang along. When Feroze Khan celebrated youth and drugs with Rekha, dancing along to the tune of Ek to kam zindagani (Jaanbaaz), little did he know that some day the cops would pounce on his son Fardeen as he tried to top up on a little cocaine.

Kabir Bedi, Mahesh Bhatt, Parveen Babi, Sanjay Dutt... they've all experimented with intoxicants. Some got out with scars. Some fared worse.

Actor Vijay Raaz, or the wedding planner PK Dubey in Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, last week found himself detained at Abu Dhabi airport.

The charge: possession of 25 gms of marijuana in his hand baggage. Raaz was on his way to Dubai to shoot for the film Deewane hue Paagal.

Applauded both by the critics and the masses for his portrayal of the marigold eating-Dubey, life had just about begun to smile on Raaz.

Formerly of Kirori Mal College, Raaz's priorities had always been straight. He wanted to be an actor.

After initial training at The Players, Kirori Mal's dramatics society, he went on to join the National School of Drama. Bollywood was the obvious next choice.

Raaz got his big break when Ram Gopal Varma cast him in Jungle. His "unconventional" face seemingly perfect to play a runaway bandit. Unfortunately, Sushant Singh, a fellow Kirori Mal alumnus, walked away with the applause.

Raaz wasn't disappointed. "I am a regular guy. I want to do regular work and as long as that keeps on happening I am OK," he said in an interview.

Raaz's uncharacteristic face didn't fail him. Mira Nair thought it perfect for the comic small time wedding planner he played in her film.

"His face is his strength. It can be as expressive as it can be expressionless," she said.

Films like Hari Om, Raghu Romeo and Mumbai Express showed us more of Raaz.

"Vijay is meant for roles that are real. The common man relates to his persona. If he plays a rikshawallah, nobody doubts his authenticity," said Hari Om director Bharat Bala. Raaz seemed to like it that way.

Things were settling into an easy groove. Raaz had recently bought a house, and was looking forward to setting it up with his wife Krishna. That's when Abu Dhabi airport popped up.

Friends and relatives still can't believe it. Others dredge up the overused explanation: casual intoxicants help relieve work pressure and the emotional upheavals that come with being a Bollywood actor in this country.

But all of that aside, with Raaz, it really seems more believable that he didn't take the time needed to understand the UAE's drug laws.

Put simply, he probably didn't think very much of transporting marijuana over international borders. The law will probably not accept that as explanation.

Raaz just got unlucky. The latest reports coming in say the Indian ambassador to the UAE, Sudhir Vyas, spoke with Raaz on Thursday. Raaz said he was okay and was being well treated. He has not however hired a lawyer as yet.

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