Gambling scams are nothing new to India nor Bollywood. As the KPL match-fixing scheme is unravelling let’s take a look at some Bollywood hits that feature gambling scams:
Aamir Khans epic sports film Lagaan was one of the first Bollywood film that featured a gambling scam but in a subtle way. The critically acclaimed movie which is set in the year 1893 revolves around a small village whose inhabitants are burdened by high taxes in the British raj. They find themselves in a precarious situation as they are challenged to a cricket match by an arrogant officer as a wager to avoid taxes.
The character of Lakha (Yashpal Sharma) is convinced by the British to join the villagers’ team but to play poorly. This is one of the most classic scenarios of match-fixing.
The movie was critically acclaimed and Lagaan was even nominated for an Oscar.
Nagesh Kukunoors coming of age sports drama Iqbal is another film in which the subject of match-fixing is present in a subtle way. In one of the pivotal scenes of the movie, Guruji (Girish Karnad), an owner of cricket academy is seen trying to convince Iqbal to bowl badly with a bribe.
Iqbal takes the offer thinking about his father who is facing financial difficulties. Later he turns down the offer when an advertising agent shows up just in time to offer him a better deal.
Another gambling scam that is often covered in Bollywood movies are lottery scams. The Akshay Kumar owned film Chumbak is one of them. It tells the story of a 15-year-old table cleaning waiter boy Baalu (Sahil Jadhav) who dreams of escaping poverty by any means necessary. With the help of his friend he decides to start an SMS lottery scam and by chance comes across the mentally slow man Prasanna (Swanand Kirkire) which forces him to choose between his dreams and morality.
As lottery sites in India become more popular the dangers of lottery scams are more relevant than ever.
Malamaal Weekly (2006)
Another take on lottery scams is Priyadarshan’s film Malamaal Weekly. It tells the story of an impoverished village where one of the few entertainments available is the lottery. Lilaram (Paresh Rawal) has the job of intermediary between the lottery organisation and the villagers. He receives a commission each time a villager wins giving him a good but volatile income.
One day he checks the lottery results and notices that one of the tickets he sold has won a prize of one crore. No one comes forth as the winner and as Lilaram realizes that the villager with the winning ticket probably has no idea that he won he devises a plan to get ahold of the ticket and claim the prize as his own. As the story untangles several comedic and chaotic incidents occur.
This is probably the most common lottery scam there is where the vendor takes advantage of someone’s negligence and claim prizes as their own.
The film was so popular that it got a reboot as Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal. The reboot was also about lotteries but strayed away from the scam subject.