November 22, 2017
Image credit : Illustrative Image
Over 14 years after the suicide of famous film producer G Venkateswaran, fondly called GV, following deep debt, death of another producer Ashok Kumar on Tuesday has rattled Kollywood and has brought to fore once again the loan sharks under whose vile grip the film industry is struggling for survival.
The suicide of GV, brother of director Maniratnam, way back on April 3, 2003 remained mysterious, though the name of film financier N.Anbuchezhian was doing the rounds then as the reason for his death. GV did not leave a suicide note and Anbuchezhian denied allegations of threatening GV to settle his debts. He had claimed that GV owed him only a small amount but had borrowed huge sums from others.
This time around, his name is out in the open as Ashok Kumar, director-producer Sasi Kumar’s cousin, of Madurai has left behind a suicide note charging 50-year-old Anbuchezhian with usury and instigating him to end his life, based on which Valsaravakkam police have filed a case under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of IPC.
Who is Anbuchezhian? What is his background? How did he bring the Kollywood under his grip? He is to Kollywood what underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is to Bollywood, say film industry sources in short. To put it otherwise, just as Dawood and his syndicate D-Company have been linked to financing of Bollywood, Anbuchezhian is linked to financing of Kollywood.
He hails from Kamudhi in Ramanathapuram district and moved to Madurai in the early 1990s. Sources who are in the know of things say he started off carrying ‘reel petti’ ‘(film roll case) and that was how his association with film industry began. Slowly, he started lending small amount of money to co-workers. In all, his moneylending business was capped at Rs 5000. Then, he grew to a stature of lending money to theatre owners in Madurai-Ramanathapuram circle to release films. “He would terrorise them and ensure that the amount lent is collected with interest within 3 days,” a source recalls.
Anbuchezhian, sources claim, managed to get the introduction of a power centre, who was close to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, through a former MLA from Tiruppatur in Sivagangai district after which he obtained distribution rights for many films in the southern region of the State.
“He learnt the trade so well that he became close to power centres whoever or whichever party they are attached to. He was the one who got former union minister M K Alagiri clap-start Namitha-starrer ‘Jaganmohini’ at the Tirumalai Naicker Palace in 2008 and also played an instrumental role in helping his son Dayanidhi step into Kollywood with Cloud Nine Movies, his production and distribution company,” another source says, adding that he later became a member of AIADMK officially.
It was in December 2011, Anbuchezhian was arrested by Madurai rural police headed by the then SP Asra Garg on charges of attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and cheating. The complainant S.V.Thangaraj of Virusangulam near Tirumangalam said he had borrowed Rs 20 lakh from him in two instalments to complete his movie ‘Meesai Magan’. The financier allegedly took signatures from blank stamp papers and letter pad and received 8 cheques and then gave him the money.
“Anbuchezhian had charged high rate of interest over 30 per cent, while the complainant had paid up to Rs One crore,” an investigation officer said, recalling the pressure mounted on him by politicians to drop action against the financier. The case, however, was not charge sheeted after Garg was transferred and subsequently closed. “He is not a small fry. He is highly connected, especially with powerful politicians,” the officer said.
Now, it remains to be seen whether Anbuchezhian, who has gone underground, would be nabbed for which 3 special teams have been formed and tried before law.