'Basti' Director Held for Cocaine Consumption; Focus on Tollywood

HYDERABAD: Fifty-three-year-old Mantena Vasu Varma, the chairman of MNR Knowledge Trust and the director of the Telugu film ‘Basti’ (2015) was arrested on September 5 for consuming cocaine, it was revealed on Sunday.

This marked the latest in a series of arrests of personalities involved in Tollywood, although no drugs were seized from Varma, the police said, refusing to reveal further details.

Sources said that the arrest was not revealed as it was mentioned as a ‘low profile’ case. They said that Varma had been consuming drugs since 2018 and procured them from a peddler identified as Victor.

The police said that Varma’s name was revealed while questioning Tollywood scriptwriter Manneri Prudhvi Krishna and event organiser Rahul Ashok Telore, who was arrested in June 2023. In the case, the police had seized 70 grams of cocaine, marijuana and foreign liquor from the duo.

Varma was sent to judicial remand, while Victor, the peddler who was a common friend of Varma and Krishna, remains at large.

Madhapur DCP G. Sandeep told Deccan Chronicle that they will take custody of the accused to verify if any other film personality was also associated with them. “There is a possibility of an expanded list of suspects,” he said.

Madhapur SHO N. Tirupati said that the accused arrested in this case were not associated with other gangs and that it was an isolated case.

The case gained prominence in the light of a series of drug busts in which Tollywood personalities were arrested.

In June 2023, Sunkara Krishna Prasad Chowdary alias K.P. Chowdary, known for releasing the Tamil movie ‘Kabali’ in Telugu, was arrested by the Cyberabad police and cocaine was seized from him, at Rajendranagar.

Three weeks ago, Tollywood financier Karumuri Venkataratna Reddy was along with a retired navy personnel and a railway employee. Investigation into this case led the cops to producer Ravi Uppalapati, who was also arrested, and actor Navdeep, who was grilled by the narcotics bureau on Saturday.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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