Bollywood thesp convicted

Dutt found guilty for role in terrorist attack

MUMBAI — A day after the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. picked Bollywood pic “Lage raho Munnabhai” for its list of films eligible for a foreign-language film nom, its star was convicted in a Mumbai court for his role in India’s deadliest terrorist attacks more than 10 years ago.

Sanjay Dutt was convicted Tuesday of possessing firearms but acquitted of the more serious charge of aiding and abetting terrorists in 12 bombings in Mumbai in which 257 died and 700 were injured in March 1993.

Judge P.D. Kode said the actor was guilty of illegally possessing weapons that had been given to him by men accused of carrying out the bomb attacks. But he added, “I’ve not found him to be a terrorist or destructor.”

Dutt, 47, has the highest profile among the 123 defendants in the case and will be sentenced by the end of next month. He could get anywhere from five to 10 years in prison.

The thesp, who is free on bail for four weeks, is signed to topline in six films with a total budget of $30 million.

Dutt comes from Bollywood royalty. His mother, Nargis, was an award-winning thesp who starred with his father, Sunil Dutt, starred in “Mother India,” India’s first Oscar-nommed pic. Sunil Dutt is also a parliamentarian.

Film analyst Taran Adarsh told the BBC that Dutt’s conviction was “a huge blow” for Bollywood, but added, “Whatever the verdict might be, trade analysts feel that this will not affect Sanjay’s popularity among his fans.”

The connection between Bollywood and mobsters is an open secret in India. Dutt previously spent nearly two years in prison on terrorism charges before the Supreme Court released him on bail.