Bollywood star Salman Khan was found guilty of culpable homicide by a Mumbai court in a hit-and-run incident in Mumbai over a decade ago.
Reacting to today’s verdict, the shares of entities associated with Salman Khan came under intense selling pressure today.
Salman Khan found guilty by court
Salman Khan, one of India’s biggest movie stars, was accused of ramming his Land Toyota Cruiser into a roadside bakery, killing one person and injuring four others sleeping on a sidewalk in the Indian financial capital in 2002, killing one and injuring four. According to a prosecutor, the 49-year-old actor ran away from the scene.
According to Khan’s lawyer, Shrikant Shivade, a Mumbai court found the actor had committed culpable homicide, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The court also found the actor guilty of rash and negligent driving, causing hurt by endangering life and drunk driving.
Earlier in the day, a Sessions Judge sentenced Mr Khan to five years’ rigorous imprisonment, holding him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. However, Khan swiftly petitioned the Bombay High Court, which granted him interim bail till May 8 to hear his appeal against the conviction.
In his deposition before the court in March, Salman Khan said he was neither drunk nor was he driving his car. He said: “I was awake through the night at that time. And I was stressed about this (accident)”. The prosecution examined 27 witnesses, while the defence examined only one witness – Salman’s driver Ashok Singh. One of the prosecution witnesses was a security guard Sachin Kadam, who was declared hostile after he backtracked from his statement of having seen the actor at the scene of the accident.
A few months back, Ashok Singh had testified in court, accepting the blame for the accident, but the court rejected it. During the trial, a police constable who was traveling with Salman Khan as part of his security detail said in his statement to police that the drunk actor lost control of the car while driving at about 90 km an hour. However, the constable died in 2007 due to tuberculosis. His statement seems to have nailed the actor’s fate, with the court accepting the statement over Ashok Singh’s statement that Khan was not driving the car.
Together with Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan is the second big star from the Mumbai film industry to become embroiled in a high-profile criminal case in recent years. He is also facing trial in a Rajasthan court for hunting a black buck during the shooting of the movie ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain”.
Several million dollars riding on Salman Khan
In a career spanning over two-and-a-half decades, Salman Khan has played many popular roles in several blockbusters. He still has many projects to be completed, as well as from endorsements of products. The film industry kept its fingers crossed, and Khan’s well-wishers and fellow actors were hoping that nothing adverse would happen to him. However, their hopes have been dashed.
Industry trade analysts estimate an investment of Rs 200 Crore (about $31 million) is riding on Salman Khan, who has delivered a string of box office successes in the last few years. Five of his recent films have earned a total of over a billion rupees ($15.7 million) in domestic ticket sales. He had also reportedly committed to do four other films, including ‘Dabang 3’ and ‘Entry Mein No Entry’, which were about to be announced.
The Bollywood star also reportedly earned over $20 million for hosting Season 7 of the Indian version of the reality TV series “Bigg Boss”. The superstar endorses 10 brands ranging from soda drinks to motorcycles.
The following provides a snapshot of the several million dollars riding on Salman Khan:
Following Wednesday’s court verdict, shares of Mandhana Industries plunged 4.74% to Rs. 263.10. Mandhana has an exclusive licensing agreement with Being Human – the Salman Khan Foundation – for designing, marketing and distributing Being Human Clothing.
Eros International Media, a movie production company, is involved in a movie starring Khan. Its shares plunged 5.66% to Rs 381 today, as the company had in December announced its collaboration on the two maiden productions of Salman Khan – Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Hero. The two movies’ global rights have also been acquired by Eros International.
While the movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan is set for an Eid release in July 2015, Hero is expected to release later this year. Salman has also recently completed two projects – Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Trade analysts pegged the amount riding on these projects would be anywhere between Rs 175 and Rs 200 million crore.