'Maastigudi' director, producer, four others charged over actors' drowning

'Maastigudi' director, producer, four others charged over actors' drowning

Nearly six months after two stunt actors drowned in the Thippagondanahalli reservoir during the shooting of Kannada film ‘Maastigudi,’ police have formally charged the producer, director, stunt director and three others.

The jurisdictional Taver­e­k­e­re police filed a 400-page charge sheet before the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court in Magadi, about 50 kilometres west of Bengaluru, earlier this week. The film is scheduled for release on Friday. Criminal negligence was found on the part of the film’s producer Sundar P Gowdru, director Nagshekar, stunt director Ravi Verma, assistant director Siddarth, unit manager Bharath and the pilot of the helicopter Prakash Biradar. The charge sheet has fixed culpability on each accused according to the roles and responsibilities assigned to them.

The charge sheet lists 78 witnesses, including several BWSSB officials who stated that the film’s crew violated the conditional permission given for the shoot, local residents who came to watch the shoot and rescue workers who fished out the bodies after a 48-hour search. The charge sheet states that the deceased actors — Anil Kumar (37) and Raghavendra Uday (31) — were bare-chested and didn’t wear any life jackets, while the lead actor, Duniya Vijay, had worn one, which saved him from drowning. Shortly before the shoot, the deceased actors had given interviews to news channels and expressed fears about their lack of expertise in swimming.

Kumar and Uday — known for portraying negative roles on-screen — had jumped off the helicopter along with Vijay from a height of about 60 feet on November 7, 2016. Moments later, the two actors began to drown in the 40-foot-deep lake but Vijay managed to swim to safety. A motorboat kept on standby to deal with any emergency could not start because of a technical snag and failed to rescue the actors.

Vijay has been made a witness. The complainant in the case is the Assistant Executive Engineer of the TG Halli reservoir. The accused were booked under IPC 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) which attracts imprisonment up to 10 years. The accused were arrested but released on bail later. The investigating officer is Anil Kumar, police inspector from the district crime branch.

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