By Our Staff

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Actor Vivek Oberoi caused a Bollywood sensation on Tuesday with his claim at a press conference that fellow actor Salman Khan had abused him and threatened to kill him, accusing him of having a string of affairs with a number of top actresses, including Aishwarya Rai, a former close friend of Salman's. When the news began circulating, few were willing to believe it - and most passed it off as an April Fool's Day joke. This changed after Vivek Oberoi called a press conference at his house to confirm the story.

Vivek told reporters that on a single night Salman had called him up on the phone 41 times to abuse him and to threaten that he would come over to his house and "kill him." He said Aishwarya Rai had also received a number of abusive text messages on her cell phone. Vivek said he had informed the police about these threats and added that he would file a formal complaint against Salman Khan soon. He said the police had offered him protection, but he had refused this.

When asked about the matter, Salman Khan laughed over Oberoi's statement that he had threatened his life and added that he had "nothing to say about his allegation."

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Vivek said Salman had abused him over his alleged close relationships with actresses Rani Mukherjee, Diya Mirza, Somy Ali and, of course, Aishwarya Rai. The actor made it clear that unlike other top Bollywood figures who had in the past been at the receiving end of Salman Khan's tantrums and abusive behaviour, he was not willing to forgive and forget because Salman was a "disturbed" man.

"If he is a disturbed man, his family should keep him locked up in the house and get him treated. It is high time that the family started taking responsibility for their brattish son who keeps behaving like a school bully. It is high time someone took a stand," said Oberoi.

Vivek, son of actor Suresh Oberoi, said he had called up Salman's brothers - Arbaaz and Sohail - and informed them about their sibling's behaviour. He claimed that the two, with whom he said he had excellent relations, had apologised for Salman's threats.

Vivek said the Salman phone drama began at 12.30 a.m. and went on till 5 a.m., and many of the 41 calls had gone unattended. Salman's language, he said, was so derogatory that "I can't even repeat it…"

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The language got even dirtier, Oberoi said, when Khan started talking about Rani Mukherjee, Diya Mirza, Aishwarya Rai and Somy Ali. "I haven't met Somy Ali for over eight years… how can he link me up with her? He didn't even spare Gurpreet, my ex-fiancee… I tried to calm him down, knowing very well that he was under the influence of alcohol. But the guy went on to abuse my father and didn't leave even his own father." "I lost my cool after that, and told him to mind his language.

When asked if Salman Khan had threatened to use his alleged underworld connection, Oberoi said, "He implied that, by saying you don't know my connections and that he could get me killed." Oberoi said besides Aishwarya Rai, his co-stars Rani Mukherjee and Diya Mirza were also supporting him.

Vivek added that he had gone to Chennai the following day and was told by friends not to come back to Mumbai since Salman's bodyguards were on the lookout for him and were using threatening language: "Usne bhai ke sath burra kiya, iska anjaam acha nahin hoga."

Vivek Oberoi, who is yet to file an FIR, now places "the responsibility on the media and society to take a stance" since he has already taken a "major stand" against Salman.

Though Vivek maintained he was planning to meet the police today to discuss possible legal action, Joint Commissioner (Crime) Dr Satya Pal Singh said there was no meeting scheduled.

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"No, I 'm not manipulating the media. I think now it's the media's responsibility to mobilise the issue," said the young actor, brushing aside accusations about using the press. "What Salman has done has been ignored far too long, nobody has taken a stance before." In the same breath, he added "I want to cordially resolve the issue now, but there has been no call from the family, which is in denial and in no mood to resolve the issue."

Salman's younger brother, actor Arbaaz Khan, dismissed Vivek's allegations as "false and baseless". "Salman is a bigger star than Vivek. To become a star everyone in the industry is targeting Salman," Arbaaz told reporters.

Commenting on yesterday's tamasha, actress Urmila Matondkar said: 'I have nothing to say about both the actors, but it's ridiculous that the media is lapping up anything offered to them."

Other Bollywood heavyweights concurred, "At these times when we are on the precipice of a holocaust, I treat this silly issue with disdain," said director Mahesh Bhatt.

Director Kunal Kohli said he supports Vivek fully "on an ideological level since Salman was clearly out of line". However, he added: "It's unfortunate the film industry is getting a bad rep, and is being cast in a bad light.

Not everyone agrees with Vivek's method, though. "This story has gained mileage at the expense of critical war coverage," said Salman's friend and fashion designer Vikram Phadnis. "Vivek could have solved this problem privately. He should have tried to settle it amicably. It's unfair that Vivek has focused on Salman's flaws, raking up unrelated incidents from the past."

Interestingly, Vivek Oberoi has made an inroad into the advertising industry. This one has Ash too, and hopes to grab the youth by their eyeballs when it is premiered today. It doesn't hurt that the ad is coming out close on the heels of the Vivek-Salman Khan controversy. Vivek's rumoured-but-strongly-denied romance with Ash also adds to the buzz.


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