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I have done over 30 films sitting here in

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Joined: 21 June 2005
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Posted: 10 March 2006 at 9:57am | IP Logged

An absconder for the Mumbai Police, one of India's finest music directors for his fans - Nadeem Akhtar Saifi of the renowned Nadeem-Shravan duo tells us his side of the story, and of a life away from home in NDTV 24x7's Walk the Talk. 

Excerpts from the Interview:
So why don't you come to Mumbai and deal with them?

I would definitely come if the government promises me security and justice for which I have been fighting for the last nine years.

Well, there is a system of justice, there is security. I am sure you are a high profile person, you will get the best possible treatment.

Do you guarantee me security?

Well as much I guarantee myself because I live in my country and I face the same law.

I have stated in every interview that I am more than happy to come down to India and face the charges. These charges have been cooked up against me. I have fought here in London in the Supreme Court, in the House of Lords. You have read their judgments and you know how strongly they have projected my innocence. In the Indian courts, the sessions court judge Honourable Justice M L Tahiliani has also mentioned that the conspiracy charges must fail against all the accused.

The Mumbai police believes that you were not tried because you were not there.

How can you say I was not tried? What evidences were placed in the trial, 300 per cent more evidences were placed in the London trial. In every sessions court trial, my name was mentioned in every bit of it, otherwise the trial could not have been held.
And the Mumbai Police has appealed to the High court now.

Yes. Mr R S Sharma, the commissioner who did the investigation, himself is in jail today. That speaks of the investigation in my case. The man who investigated my case is jailed today for omission of investigation in the Telgi case.

But Nadeem, what motive would somebody have in framing you? The British court has said this, the Indian court has not pronounced on this as yet.

The British court has said in the judgment that the police has acted in a manner which means the case is fabricated. It's very clearly spelt. And I feel, may be because of my high profile there, they wanted to find a scapegoat. The government was putting pressure on them.

That's taken, your high profile image. And you know it's very tough for our police-you know how our police is. They are not the most important people in our society, or the most powerful, to frame charges against a well-known music director. It doesn't stand to reason.

It does stand to reason. We have material evidences which proves that this entire case was fabricated. There are so many things which have come to the forefront on the basis of which the deputy chief justice of England, Honourable Justice Christopher Rose and Justice Paul Newman, both have given their verdict that I am innocent and I should not be sent to India because I will not get a fair trial there.

There are stories in newspapers that even Abu Salem has said so in his interrogation.

I have no comments on that. I would only speak for myself.

Coming back to the question of motives, why name a high profile music director just to make out a case, unless you talk of a more interesting motive?

I was shocked when a man I considered my father which is Gulshan Kumar, he was my mentor, he gave me Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin. Had he been alive today, I would have not been sitting here. He would have been the first to fight for me. That's what angers and shocks me -- you should understand-that a man who investigated my case has been put behind bars. What faith would you place on a man who has been jailed for omission of investigation?

People get jailed for corruption, but that doesn't mean that everything else he did has gone wrong.

Well, in all sensibility, if a court of England and our honourable courts have given a judgment, I don't think there should be any doubt whatsoever, unless the person is so vicious. I have been facing this all the time-the viciousness of some of the officers of the Mumbai Police.

Many of the officers are not there now. You have this British judgment, so why don't you come back and clear your name?

I would love to come and clear my name, provided I get a fair trial.

In that trial, 18 of the 19 were acquitted. You can't say you didn't get a fair trial.

I said if I am going to get a fair trial, I would definitely come.

Isn't that evidence enough that this is a fair trial?

I am actually waiting for the government to honourably call me as you might have also read in the newspapers. They have done the interrogation. So everything is spelt out.

What do you mean by "honourably" calling you? They can't withdraw the case.

Of course they can withdraw the case. If the dynamite case against George Fernandes can be withdrawn, why not mine?

I think a case is always discharged by the Indian courts, but never by the Indian government and secondly, it's a bit thick to compare your case with George Fernandes' case in the Baroda dynamite conspiracy. But if you know the basic law in India, that if a case goes to the court, it can only be withdrawn by the court.

Yes, I am waiting for the Indian court to withdraw my case.

Of the lakhs of people seeking justice from the Indian courts, not all can hide in London.

I am not hiding in London. I've been living here very respectfully. I've been given a British citizenship. I am very much in the public foray, I've been invited and given all the honour I deserve.

And your friends from Hindi cinema are in touch with you?

Absolutely. I have done over 30 films sitting here in London.

And when they come here, they meet you? Are they in touch over the phone? They don't consider you an outcast?

Not at all! They love me more than ever before because they know that I have been wronged.

They are not afraid of dealing with you?

Why should they be? I am an extremely honourable man, I have fought my case. I have faced the law. And I have won the case not once but thrice.

In your appeal for extradition, you claimed that because you were a Muslim, you didn't expect justice in India. That is hurtful. Fourteen to fifteen crore Muslims live in India. Not all of them can come and live in England and they get justice.

Let me tell you that living in England was not out of choice. India is my motherland and I love my India. I have said this hundreds of times. And at that point of time I felt that because of being a Muslim, such a vicious witchhunt was launched against me and is still being done.

But do you regret having said that because that is a slur on the Indian secular system.

No, I never regret anything I say because I am a man who speaks with conviction. I know what I said at that point of time had a very strong meaning. You know at that at the time of the other government, there have been instances of picking up of successful Muslims.

Well, I don't think so. In any case, law and order is a state subject and your state-Maharashtra-mostly has had a Congress government, and tell how many successful Muslims have been targeted? That's an unfair accusation.

I think that is for you and the audience to decide. But had I not been a Muslim, I would have got the justice I deserve. Justice delayed is justice denied. For nine years I have been in this country. My family and I have suffered so badly, on account of what? Four vicious police officers, wearing a uniform, who thought "we need to nail this man and cut him down to size?" that's not fair.

That means unless you are discharged, you will not come back.

Yes, because in India, there is a threat to my life.

From whom?

From these vicious officers.

Do you have any guesses as to who would have got Gulshan Kumar killed?

I wish I knew because I would be the first man to run after him because i have been unfairly accused of something which I have not done. And I want everyone, including millions of my fans, to know that I have been denied justice for nine years and this is enough. It's enough for anyone to take lying down. So, I request the Government of India very humbly to please look into the matter and give me the justice I deserve.

I hope the Government of India will deal with this fairly and kindly. But let me ask you the question you've been expecting to be asked. How well do you know Abu Salem?

I don't know him at all.

You've never met him?

No. Once in the Sunny Studios, where our recording was on, there was a phone call and Shravan picked it up. He spoke to the person and gave me the phone. I spoke to the person and it was an extortion threat to both of us. Together we dealt with the threat and that is the only proximity I've had with the man. I have said this since 1997, you can pick up the old newspapers and see.

But there are pictures of you both together.

No, no, that's an absolute lie. If there are pictures, please produce them. Why do they keep saying, "we have got evidence"?

Your being seen with somebody is not evidence that you have passed him Rs 25 lakhs to kill someone?

Look, if you called me and asked for an interview, I agreed, if anyone of my fans call me, I would go and meet him because he loves my music.

So did you meet him as a fan? Feel free to say you didn't know who he was.

No, no. I have told you that we got an extortion threat at the Sunny Studios.

How much did he demand?

About Rs 50 lakh. And I told him that we are not superstars or actors who make that kind of money.

Then what happened?

Then Shravan and me went to a PCO and requested him, ki bhai hum ko maaf kar do, we don't have that kind of money. Aap humaara music to suntay hongay, and he said, "haan, bahot achha hai aapka music". So we asked him to spare us and he did.

But how did you get his number?

The number was given to Shravan to call.

Didn't he say, "if you can't call, then come and perform at such-and-such a show"? Because this has also been said that you performed free at his show.

No, no. I have already produced a letter from Sheikh al-Qasimi of Sharjah that we were asked to perform at his show for his Greenland Park. And that hard copy has been sent to the courts here in England.

Do you think the shadow of the underworld over Hindi cinema has passed or does it still loom large over the industry?

I'll be very honest. I feel everytime you want to take attention away from what's happening, you just pick up one mohra like Nadeem or Salman Khan. With due respect, I would also blame the media for unnecessarily hyping things.

Salman is a friend of yours?

Yes, Salman is known to me. Of course we've worked in so many films.

And you feel he was also unfairly targetted?

You must realise, we are very easy targets. You know, being a celebrity is the toughest thing. And in these nine years of reflection, I've realised that success is a failure.

You've split up with your partner, Shravan. It's the season, Jatin-Lalit have also split.

Shravan is like my brother. Three months ago he decided to start a film. He announced the film as "produced by Shravan Rathore" and he didn't consult me. I felt very bad. So, I told him if this is the way you want to go, then let me also go my way. We remain the best of friends and best of brothers.

Which are your favourite tunes you've composed while being here?

Dhadkan, Raz-in mein barhay achhay gaanay thay.

And what are your favourites of all times? I know Pardes was your favourite.

Yes, Pardes was a very nice song. But recently I had a film Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya. There was a lovely song in that-'Hum yaar hain tumhare...'

You did get that threat call from Abu Salem asking for money and fortunately he let you go. He didn't press it.

Fortunately for so many people.

Now he is in custody, facing many cases. Do you believe that the ends of justice will be met if he's called to account because you know that he threatened you?

Let the law take its own course.

So you trust the legal system on his case but not in yours?

No, I do trust the Indian legal system because I've got justice in the Indian sessions court and I have full hope.

If a court were to ask you to recount your conversation with Abu Salem, will you?

Of course. I am not afraid of anything.



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