By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Nadeem Saifee, exiled in Britain after being accused of the 1997 murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar, talks to Subhash K Jha.
You have apparently asked the Indian government for an apology? Why do you think you deserve an apology?
It surprises me, Subhash, that you are still unaware of all the facts of my case. I would have to re-educate you on the facts that the High Court of England, the Supreme Court of England, the House of Lords of England and the Indian Sessions Court, for which I have the utmost respect, have all cleared me from this false accusation. They have also indicted the officers of the Mumbai police who were involved in this case for fabricating the evidence. I’ve seen in the last 17 years of my torment that in spite of being innocent, in my opinion, under the instructions of some biased politicians, some members of the media have tried to tarnish my image and continuously hurt me by writing all the negative they can with the style of their journalistic experience. I will further go to say that one part of the media has made up their mind to portray me as a bad man in spite of knowing the truth.
Why do you feel you are being victimized?
For instance, I would like to make it clear once and for all that I had never fled to London, as it was reported in a leading newspaper a few days ago. The fact is that I was on a holiday with my family as well as for my wife’s medical checkup. But after the unfortunate incidence, they found in me a scapegoat and fabricated a false case against me. Now as I repeat, all this has been proved over the last 17 years in all the Courts of Law. You ask me a question as to why I deserve an apology?I think this attitude has to change and the media must play a serious role. If the media does not play a serious role, it becomes a dangerous tool creating a string of misinformation to the innocent public.To quote a very prominent personality, ‘The profession of the media and journalism is just as vital as that of a doctor. The danger of false and misleading news written by a pen can be just as threatening as a doctor quivering while holding a blade in surgery”. The eminent personality has added that the media must have ethics based on integrity. In the same breadth I also admire many members of the Indian media who have tried to be brave in exposing a lot of corruption and injustice.
Nadeem, it’s been 14 years since you had to leave India for the alleged murder of Mr Gulshan Kumar. What have these 14 years been like for you?
I’d like to mention that it has been 17 years of torture and punishment, defamation and bias. Of course it has been tough but God’s mercy has made me tough towards all the injustice meted out to me by those officers who were handling the case. R.S. Sharma the Police Commissioner who was jailed on the last day of his duty, the then Deputy Commissioner of police K.L. Prasad and the Sub-inspector Arjun Bagdi, Gopinath Munde and the biased public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikkam. But as you know that when life gets tough, the tough becomes tougher and innocence has its own strength from the Almighty.
Have you ever tried to convince Gulshan Kumar’s family of your innocence?
Yes, initially I did try but with my clear conscious but I did not feel the need to go on and on.
You say jealous people framed you? Who were these people and why were they jealous of you?
I have already mentioned the names above. They were jealous of my super success, my super stardom and my super hits.
You’ve been advised by some legal experts to return to India, since that is the only way you can clear your name. Why don’t you return to India?
I would definitely want to return to India but when I see the television and see the amount of corruption in just about every department, I feel that I would stand no chance of having an impartial judicial proceeding. The judges in my opinion are not independent of the government.
Nadeem, how have you managed to keep your career going in exile? Surely it must be really tough?
Arabian attars, one of my very successful brands has helped me keep up. Life is tough as everybody knows whether it is in India or in exile.
Have you, in some ways, lost faith in the Indian judicial system?
In my opinion, yes. Because of the four judgments announcing my innocence and in spite of the alleged accused being brought to India, interrogated, narco analyzed and tortured, my innocence has again be proved. By now, the courts should have thrown out the case for the total lack of evidence whatsoever against me.
Have you kept in touch with your musical partner Shravan?
There has not been much communication between us mainly because I’ve been extremely busy designing for the international fragrance market.
For nearly a decade you and Shravan ruled the Bollywood charts. How do you look back on your exceptional decade-long success?
We not only ruled the Bollywood charts for the decade but we still rule because our style of music is still appreciated. I never look back on my past laurels. I’m the kind of personality who wants to break new records and do more creative work. My life was and will be dedicated towards creative entertainment.
Would you like to return and resume your career? If so, would you partner with Shravan again?
Yes of course, I wouldn’t mind resuming my career since the demand for my music is still the same.
What career are your children planning to pursue?
Que sera sera whatever will be, will be….. Insha allah. We all try to take one day at a time.
Have any of your old friends from Mumbai kept in touch with you?
I’m very fortunate by the grace of God that not my friends from Mumbai but from all over the world come to meet me and 365 days of the year, we are hosting either a lunch of a dinner I extend my invitation to you too, Subhash.
If you had to change one thing in your life what would it be?
I would love to fly to India and resume my work at the Sunny Studios. This interview is too short to register all my grievances. I hope good sense for justice prevails and the media takes up the cause of innocence and sees to it that I get justice which I have been denied for the past 17 years.