At a time when the law has come sharply down on Bollywood stars Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan, actor Saif Ali Khan has spoken to The Times of India about how celebrities no longer consider themselves above the law.
Saif, accused of abetting Hum Saath Saath Hain co-star Salman Khan in poaching endangered blackbuck deer in Rajasthan 14 years ago, told The Times Of India, ""There was a time when India was very forgiving, the law didn't really apply to everybody. It was like, you're a huge star and you're a good guy and you're okay, if you don't really create trouble for someone, you'd be fine. There are things that some of us would do without thinking earlier - today, I wouldn't do the same in a million years. No chance."
Saif, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre have all been charged with hunting and inciting Salman to hunt under the Wildlife Protection Act. They have also been charged with unlawful assembly. If convicted, the actors face up to six years in jail. The next hearing of the case is on April 27, when a Jodhpur court will record statements from witnesses.
The blackbuck poaching case is only of several in Salman's blotted copybook. He is also charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which his SUV killed one person and injured four people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in Bandra.
Sanjay Dutt has been convicted of illegally possessing arms in a case linked to the 1993 Bombay blasts. He has been sentenced to five years in jail, of which he has already served 18 months and will serve another three-and-a-half years. He was to surrender on April 18 but has been granted an extra four weeks of freedom by the Supreme Court so he can complete shooting his films.
Despite Saif's assertion that he wouldn't "do the same in a million years," his legal record also has more than one black mark. Apart from the poaching case, Saif has been chargesheeted in an assault case in which he allegedly punched an NRI businessman at a Mumbai hotel last year.
The Race 2 star also spoke about a recent incident at the Lucknow airport in which he was allegedly asked to leave the VIP lounge. "I actually smiled and stepped out and sat in the main area. Then the airport manager came and said, it's a misunderstanding, please come back to the lounge," he told The Times Of India.
"I said, I honestly couldn't be bothered, it's a lovely airport, and it's not as if I'm being mobbed or bothered by anyone, this is fine. He said, please come and have a cup of tea, and I went and had a cup of tea with him," the actor added.
Saif is currently gearing up for his upcoming zom-com flick Go Goa Gone and here's hoping the movie sees a peaceful release.