Bollywood’s first hit-and-run case

Puru and his father Raaj KumarWe have spoken at length about Salman Khan’s hit-and-run case of 2002 in my earlier post. But Salman Khan was not the first person in Bollywood to be accused of the crime.

That dubious distinction goes to an actor called Puru Raajkumar, who is the eldest son of Bollywood legend Raaj Kumar.

Puru is the first Bollywood actor who ended up crushing sleeping people under the speeding wheels of his car and perhaps, the luckiest among the lot. Neither was Puru jailed after that incident nor is he facing charges of homicide. He was let off after paying some money which would roughly amount to Rs one lakh.

Puru made his debut with a film called Bal Brahmachari , which tanked at the box office. Those who still cannot place him, here’s a scene from a film called Uljhan. I found the scene depicted in the film quite contextual to my article, hence the mention.

When Raaj Kumar’s son crushed two people under his wheels

Time: 3.30 am, Date: December 7, 1993, Place: Bandra West, Mumbai

Puru Raajkumar was never considered one of the best actors in the industry, but he was considered a regular in Mumbai’s party circuit in the 1990s. As a son of a Bollywood legend (Raaj Kumar), he enjoyed the status of a star-in-waiting at Bollywood parties. The filmi magazines had reported that he was always a ‘hot property’ because of his impending Bollywood launch. Aspiring starlets used to throw themselves at him.

Some take this responsibility with humility, and some can be quite arrogant. We don’t know in what way Puru took the star-son status, but that day (on December 7) after a night of heavy partying, his actions were anything but responsible.

Puru Raajkumar was returning home after a night of heavy partying. Though it was alleged by the police that he was drunk and not in control of the wheel, there is no concrete proof of that because his blood was not tested that day. The fact remains, that the actor was not in complete control of the wheels of his imported car. While negotiating a sharp turn, Puru crashed onto the pavement.

That day Puru’s car ran over eight people as both the front wheels and the rear wheels rolled over the unsuspecting poor labourers who were sleeping on the pavement after a hard day’s work. As Puru left his car and fled the scene, the neighbourhood was jolted out of their slumber by the wails of the men as some of them were stuck underneath the rear wheels of his car.

Three people succumbed to the ghastly accident that day – two due to head injuries. Puru Raajkumar’s front wheels had hit their heads with such great speed that it broke open their skulls. Another died on his way to the hospital from persistent internal bleeding inside his head.

Two others were severely injured while another man was crippled as he lost a hand that was stuck under his rear wheels. It was so badly twisted and crushed that the hand was beyond repair. Remember, being a labourer, losing a hand could mean losing livelihood.

It was one of the most gruesome drunk driving cases that Bollywood or the country had ever seen. However, it was never treated as one.

Did the victims ever get justice?

Well, it depends on what you call justice. In the face of such incriminating evidence, Puru Raajkumar was convicted of his crime. He was booked under the bailable IPC section of Rash and Negligent Driving (Section 304A). Puru claimed through his advocate that he was not guilty of the charge, but the court ruled against him.

The court ordered that the pavement dwellers, who died so horribly under his wheels, needed to be compensated. So, after much deliberation, the court fixed a sum of Rs. 30,000 as the compensation amount that was to be paid to the next of kin of the deceased. For the person who was maimed, the compensation amount was of Rs 5,000.

Advocate Viren Vashi defended his client vociferously in the court and pleaded that his client’s film career would suffer if he is sent to jail. He seemed to be a great advocate as Puru Raajkumar was never jailed even for a day, and walked away free after paying a little less than Rs one lakh for killing three and crippling one person.

Film magazines reported that two days after the incident, Puru was seen again at a filmy party again. It was also alleged that he never spoke to the victim’s families when the trial was on.

Much after the case reached its so-called logical end, Puru Rajkumar’s counsel finally admitted (while speaking to a magazine) that it was grave injustice to the victims who died such a horrible death in their sleep.

Four years after the verdict was delivered, Viren Vashi said in an interview, “I do think the verdict was unfair. Compensation of Rs 30,000 is a very mild penalty and it certainly was in Puru’s favour.”

Imagine the counsel himself talking about the case and admitting that justice has not been served to the people who were killed under Puru’s wheels that night.

Whatever you, me or even his counsel now feel about the incident — technically and legally speaking, justice was served.

What happened later?

Though the judge spared Puru Raajkumar after his lawyer put forward an appeal to consider his flourishing film career before giving out a verdict, in reality the film-career never took off.

Puru Raajkumar could never find his place in Bollywood and delivered one box-office dud after another. After his debut film failed, he tried to make a comeback a lot of times but failed all the time. He managed to get roles in multi-starrers like Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (200o) and LOC Kargil (2003) but those films never helped his career.

Call it incidental or pure co-incidence, he was last seen in a big enough role in Salman Khan’s film Veer in 2010. After the film flopped, Puru vanished from the scene.

Puru is married and rarely appears at filmi events these days. He has not announced any film after Veer.


The other articles on the same topic:

(a) Shah Rukh Khan versus Salman: Their first public fight


(c) Ravindra Patil: The death of a messenger

Short-link of the article ->

4 replies »

  1. I remember a casual conversation with a rickshaw driver, who said that Puru’s career didnt take off as a curse of what he did, the way God’s stick works


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