Three Bollywood actors, including top star Deepika Padukone, were questioned by India’s narcotics agency on Saturday as part of an investigation into the movie industry’s alleged links with drug peddlers and cartels, officials said.
- The narcotics agency started the Bollywood drug probe after the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput
- His girlfriend, actor Rhea Chakraborty, was arrested but has denied wrongdoing
- More than a dozen people in the $3.6 billion film industry have been questioned
Padukone was the first to arrive at the Narcotics Control Board’s office in Mumbai.
She had received a summons earlier in the week while shooting a movie in the western beach resort of Goa.
Video broadcast live on Indian TV news channels later showed Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan also arriving at the agency’s office for questioning.
Details of the questioning were not immediately available.
The narcotics agency said in a statement that it started the Bollywood drug probe after the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput, whose body was found at his Mumbai residence in June.
An investigation is ongoing.
Mumbai police initially reported Rajput’s death as accidental and local media called it a suicide, but the federal police agency is now investigating whether there was foul play.
On September 8 the Narcotics Control Board arrested Rajput’s girlfriend, actor Rhea Chakraborty, accusing her of being “active in a drug syndicate connected with drug supplies”, according to her bail order.
Chakraborty, who remains in jail in Mumbai, has denied wrongdoing.
Her lawyer, Satish Maneshinde, called the arrest “a travesty of justice”.
Padukone is one of more than a dozen people working with the Hindi movie industry who have been questioned by the agency in the past two weeks.
Her manager Karishma Prakash was questioned on Friday.
A top Bollywood filmmaker, Karan Johan, said in a statement on Friday that allegations of narcotics being consumed at a party hosted by him in July last year at his residence were “false and baseless”.
His response came after an old video from a star-studded party at his residence surfaced on social media.
The scandal is a blow to the 191 billion rupee ($3.6 billion) Indian film industry, which has been struggling with a lean year, as theatres remain shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.