How Bollywood celebs like Raveena Tandon are targeted by Bandra’s organised gangs

Raveena was honourably exonerated. Others may not be as blessed

Recently, a video featuring actor/activist Raveena Tandon went viral, with heated debates raging over an incident involving her car, driver and herself. An enraged group was seen aggressively shouting into the camera, accusing Raveena and her driver of rash driving, resulting in a couple of women suffering injuries. Raveena can be seen telling the crowd not to hit anyone, as they try and push their way past the watchman and attempt to rush into her compound. Initial media reports were misleading. Did she or didn’t she? Was her driver at fault? Did innocent passers-by, near her gate, get hurt due to negligent driving? Social media was quick to judge and condemn the star, some going as far as to state she and the driver were both drunk at the time.

The timely arrival of cops and a close look at the CCTV camera footage clearly established that Raveena’s car had not touched the women. Nobody was injured, least of all an elderly lady. But till the police arrived, examined the footage, met the mob and clarified it was a false and frivolous complaint, there was complete chaos. Since no FIR had been filed, the beleaguered star could finally heave a sigh of relief.

Actor Raveena Tandon being attacked by a mob after her driver was accused of rash driving. Actor Raveena Tandon being attacked by a mob after her driver was accused of rash driving.

But what if her innocence had not been this unequivocally established? What if the mob had managed to get their hands on the driver? Or, if Raveena herself hadn’t kept her cool? These were the questions uppermost in my mind when I met her for dinner at a common friend’s home. Raveena recounted the horror of that night in detail. And from all accounts, it does seem like there is a well organised gang operating in tony Bandra, where so many Bollywood stars have homes. Consider the pattern. The gang meticulously stakes out the target’s home, observes the star’s schedule, keeps an eye on the star’s outings, and waits for the right opportunity, preferably at night when not too many bystanders are around in the leafy, dimly lit lanes. This is a serious security issue, given the number of star toddlers and older kids who are often spotted walking to a nearby park or store with nannies in tow.

Once the cops had given her the all clear, Raveena was shocked to see a video tweeted by a man called Mohsin Shaikh, who accused her of road rage and said the Padma Shri actor, who has won a national award, was “drunk”. Raveena has filed Rs100 crore defamation suit against him for damaging her reputation. Extortion is generally the motive, along with the desire to gain cheap publicity. Stars and their children are vulnerable targets. Hiring bodyguards is but one option, living with constant insecurity is the greater concern. Better policing may solve the problem. However, if what Raveena says is accurate, organised gangs have moved into the upscale Bandra neighbourhood with the sole purpose of intimidating, assaulting and blackmailing movie people.

One of the ladies present advised Raveena to apply for a gun license. I disagreed vehemently. Mumbai is not Los Angeles. Bandra isn’t Beverly Hills. America’s gun culture has claimed the lives of countless innocents. Guns create more problems than they solve. Raveena was brave enough to confront the bullies, while facing great personal risk to her own life. Another woman may have got scared and handed over the innocent driver to the mob. These are the times we live in. Deliberately misrepresenting an incident led to an emotional trauma for Raveena, her four children, husband and staff. Fortunately, she was honourably exonerated. Others may not be as blessed.

@DeShobhaa @shobhaade