Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Slumdog 'goon' arrested

Ajit Pandey, 20, who starred in Slumdog Millionaire as the hired goon of the gangster played by Mahesh Manjrekar, seems to have taken the film’s

message of rising against odds, to heart. With somewhat disastrous consequence.

He was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Sunday from his Bhayandar residence for allegedly extorting money and trying to bag film roles bsy threatening producers on phone.

Pandey, who has also acted in TV serials like Saarthi and Oh Darling Ye Hai India, hit upon the novel idea of calling up film producers posing as a certain Irfan Husri, an associate of Chhota Shakeel. In his underworld avatar he would tell producers to give a break to “his man” Pandey in their films or face death. If they couldn’t offer a role then they needed to pay ‘Husri’ Rs 20 lakh.

To cover his tracks, he would then call up the same producer again, this time as Ajit Pandey, saying that he’d got a threat from Irfan Husri that if he did not work with the said producer he would be bumped off. Pandey even went to the extent of lodging a complaint with Mira Road police saying that he was getting threatening calls from Irfan Husri. A crime branch officer said, “He would call up saying, ‘Aey producer! Main Irfan bolta hun. Ye Ajit Pandey apne gang ka hai lekin abhi sudhar gaya hai. Isko kaam dene ka, nahi to uda doonga.’ He would also claim allegiance to the D gang. Pandey used a sim card from Madhya Pradesh registered in the name of his friend to make these calls. He got the card when he had gone to his native place in MP a few months ago,” revealed the officer.

“He used the same modus operandi to extort money from producers on behalf of his actor friends, whose payments were due,” said Crime Branch chief Rakesh Maria.

“He also called up producers of some small films he had acted in and threatened them in the name of Shakeel asking them to pay Ajit Pandey’s dues at the earliest. We arrested him on Sunday and he has been remanded in police custody till June 28,” he added.

One of the many people Pandey called was Pramod Kapoor of Ramanand Sagar productions. Kapoor refused to give in to these threats and reported the matter to the police.

Initially, the police too thought that it was some goon calling from MP, but upon investigation, all evidence pointed towards Pandey.

“When we saw that the supposed goon was calling every other producer for giving roles only to Pandey, we figured that Pandey must have something to do with the goon,” said an officer close to the investigation. “And sure enough, he did.”