The drugs controversy seems to have rocked Bollywood, with names of biggies tumbling out. Sara Ali Khan, Rakul Preet Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shraddha Kapoor have been summoned by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for questioning. Whatsapp chats dating back to 2017 have been found in Padukone's case, with her manager Karishma, related to procuring drugs.
While Deepika has been asked summoned on September 25, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan will be appearing on September 26, as per news agency ANI. The agency recorded the statement of film producer Madhu Mantena on Wednesday in connection with the case.
The question arises: Does their name cropping up hold the potential to affect their careers? They are all at the top of their game currently, can such extreme negative publicity have an adverse on their upcoming films too, or lead to them signing fewer films at least for some time? In fact, according to a recent survey by Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) , a whopping 85% respondents said they wouldn't buy a product/ brand endorsed by drug tainted celebrities.
Most of the industry experts and filmmakers we talk to however don't agree to this affecting their career prospects. Producer Pritish Nandy draws a comparison with Hollywood. "Robert Downey Jr is the highest paid actor there, was he impacted by drugs? Never, it has never impacted anyone, anywhere. It's a personal affair, nothing to do with you, me or the public at large. We have made everybody's problem our problem," he says.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta also feels this won't affect their career or business in any way. In fact, he cites examples of actors Rekha, Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan.
"When Rekha's husband Mukesh Agarwal died by suicide, the entire nation started called her kulta, and said things like 'husband ko kha gayi'. Few days after that her film Phool Bane Angaray (1991) was supposed to release… the producer-director KC Bokadia didn't postpone and the film went on to become a big hit. Similarly, Sanjay Dutt was alleged with a crime that was something to do with the nation and, but Khal Nayak (!993) came after that, became a big hit. Even Salman had blackbuck and road accident cases against him but his films did well. People aren't concerned about all of these. In fact sometime they start loving the celebrity even more after he or she passes through some legal hassles. If you see Salman's second innings post these cases are bigger than his first innings," he adds.
Actor Dia Mirza's name also came up in the drugs controversy, and she was quick to take to social media to clarify. In fact, she mentioned how it held the potential to damage her career. "I've never procured or consumed any narcotic or contraband substance of any form in my life. Such frivolous reporting has a direct impact on my reputation being besmirched and is causing damage to my career, which I have painstakingly built with years of hard work," she wrote.
Not just limited to the above mentioned stars, there's the infamous party held at Karan Johar's house, which was attended by Vicky Kaushal, Arjun Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan among others and that, too, has come under the scanner again. There's already a petition filed where authorities have been asked to investigate it.
Considering all this, will filmmakers be willing to work with them again? Director Anurag Basu says all these are just allegations.
"How can I comment on the basis of that. Such allegations have been put on everyone, including big stars in the past. Unless it's proved, why should anyone react? They are innocent for me right now. I cannot believe what I haven't seen, it's as simple as that," says the 46-year-old.
Director Rahul Rawail is of the opinion that we can't hang somebody without the crime being proved. He says, "Right now only names have been dropped. And the fact that anybody and everybody are being named isn't a good sign. Law will decide everything on the basis of evidence. If trailers and films of some actors haven't done well recently then that doesn't say much."
Whether the audience accepts them or not is the deciding factor for director Ken Ghosh. He recalls that people have gone and watched movies of those who have previously been known for consuming drugs.
"Everything will depend on their verdict. If a person is found guilty, if he has paid his penalty, by penalty I don't mean the fine but whatever the judgement is, then I think we should move pass whatever has happened. Even the most hardened criminals are given a second chance in their lives. Whether I'll work with these actors will also depend on the audience verdict," he says.