Making alliances with us was all well and good, but our interest payments did start to seem high to the film industry that we were “supporting” not our issue, you either paid us or returned our money.
The problem being that I myself had funded 4/5 films and the money owed to me started to stack up, and those who were paying us back all of sudden found themselves in large amounts of debt to us. So they needed a solution, the solution they sought was drug money and local gangsters.
Punjab started to see a rise in drug trafficking, the US had messed up in Afghanistan and everyone had become a drug runner in the north of Pakistan especially. Drugs are much sought after in India and Punjab became the gateway, drugs came in from Nepal, Kashmir, Bangladesh and Pakistan which was the fastest and deemed the safest way to get drugs into India.
I mentioned that I used to send white goods into Pakistan via Lorries, I had now moved on and was solely doing construction. The trucks we used to run were now carrying drugs into Punjab from Pakistan. Punjab got infested with drugs because of the old adage;”do not get high, from your own supply” It was coming in via Punjab and being distributed amongst the Punjabi youth, before being distributed across India.
Now, those drug runners also had large amounts of money, much of which was being sent internationally, the difference being that they had no foresight into how to clean the money when the electrical age came. So they then saw films as an avenue to wash surplus cash, but they had an issue, they had to get rid of the likes of us and the film houses were in our debt.
The production crews and film sets were not strangers to drug dealers, so when they were approached to help settle debts to the likes of us and then invest in films, as they wanted only 30-50% returns; well they jumped at the chance.
But we had debts to be cleared, and after two of my drivers were attacked, and the police well they couldn’t prove anything, the money we had sent went missing and I wanted to cut ties. The new breed of gangsters, they were a lot more violent than the past, arms were not an issue and beatings were nothing new.
I did get even with those who attacked our drivers, but that is not anything to do with this interview, but how did I get my money back. A film producer who I knew who was in with these new gangsters was taken away for two days, (beat severely and still bears the scars today) and left until we got our money, I do not care for how or where my money came from but I got my money, and that for me was the end of my involvement with the film industry.
This is when the new age of money started pumping through the veins of Punjabi cinema. Let me explain how:
The film houses still continued to use large sums of actual cash on set, and people were still paid in notes, but with International artists now involved, new production houses and teams were created abroad, money was wired internationally via agents / artists and production houses. So money was being cleaned.
So much surplus cash was being used on set it was unreal, singers, managers all now had cash to burn, and they wanted to invest in their own films, why would you not, you cut out the middle man. The middle man would not go easy though.
Those now in the film industry and music scene had surplus cash due to the rise of the music scene and films, so films started getting made with bank loans and artist cash, this is when those gangsters started to get pissed off, and extortion became a big issue. Punjabi gangsters were now blackmailing film houses and artists for protection money as they were no longer the preferred option to fund films.
So, yes drugs and black money funded the new wave of cinema, and some artists, does it now? Yes, it does, but on a smaller scale and not for the big movies, but one thing you cannot deny is that Punjabi cinema today is very much indebted to black money people like myself and to the drug scene. THAT IS A FACT THAT NO ONE CAN DENY