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Missing: How this Gujju-Iranian actress was caught in a major controversy with Salman and Saif

Sulagna D
·4-min read

Bollywood is not for everyone.

Some realise it sooner and tread different paths to make different achievements in life, while others keep trying till the industry throws them off.

In this giant rigmarole of realisations and refusals, we have seen many of our beloved celebs fading out into oblivion, leaving us wondering, “Where are they, how are they...?”

This “Missing Report” series digs deep into the untold stories of such missing stars, and today we are covering Neelam Kothari.

Missing: How this Gujju-Iranian actress was caught in a major controversy with Salman and Saif
Missing: How this Gujju-Iranian actress was caught in a major controversy with Salman and Saif

Claim to Fame:

Remember The Neelam Show from ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’? Neelam Kothari gained a huge fan following after playing a VJ in one of the most popular movies of Bollywood. But before that she had done some Hindi films which did miserably at the box office.

This Gujarati-Iranian actress was born in Hong Kong to a family who was into jewellery-making business. As a child, she learnt to play the keyboard and danced jazz ballet.

Bollywood discovery:

Neelam got hit by the Bollywood dream when she was holidaying in Mumbai and was approached by director Ramesh Behl who signed her for his film ‘Jawaani’ in 1984. It also starred former actress and Anil Ambani’s wife Tina Munim’s nephew. The film bombed at the box office but from there emerged a sweet-looking young actress that Bollywood oh-so-loves.

She received a lot of offers but got major recognition for appearing opposite Govinda, in his debut movie called ‘Ilzaam’ after which she and Govinda went on to star together in 14 films, including Love 86 (1986), Khudgarz (1987), Hatya (1988) and Taaqatwar (1989).

Apart from her popular pairing with Govinda, she gave five hit films with Chunkey Pandey in movies like Aag Hi Aag (1987), Paap Ki Duniya (1988), Khatron Ke Khiladi (1988), Mitti Aur Sona (1989) and Ghar Ka Chiraag (1989).

In 1998, she made a guest appearance in Karan Johar’s ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ as a VJ who SRK’s daughter Anjali was obsessed with. Her last film, though, was ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’, which also starred Bollywood biggies like Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Mohnish Behl.

Caught in a controversy:

Trouble brewed for Neelam during the shoot of ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’ when she was was charged with poaching two blackbucks in Kankani, along with her fellow co-stars Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre and Tabu. A lower court charged her and other under the Wildlife Act and the IPC.

MUMBAI,INDIA APRIL 8: Neelam Kothari at Karan Johar's party in Mumbai.(Photo by Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty Images)

She had filed a revision petition before a sessions court which discharged her of Section 51 (causing harm to wildlife) of the Wildlife Act and both of 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly of persons) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Rajasthan state government then filed a revision petition before the Rajasthan high court, which again added Section 149 against her, which it had dropped. In December 2012, the Jodhpur court summoned her along with all the accused for commencement of the trial with the revised charges on 4 February 2013. She was acquitted by the CJM court at Jodhpur on 5 April 2018.

Finding love:

In October 2000, Neelam married Rishi Sethia in Bangkok, but their marriage was short-lived. But soon enough, she found new love in actor Sameer Soni, who she got married in 2011.

After two year of their happy marriage, the couple decided to adopt a baby girl and named her Ahana.

From movies to jewels:

During her acting days, she got involved in her family business of jewellery designing, for which she even took a formal education in Mumbai. After quitting Bollywood, she dove head first into jewellery making and started out commercially on her own under the name Neelam Jewels with her own store called Neelam Kothari Fine Jewels.

Her jewels have been popular among Bollywood stars and have been spotted on many Indian actress.

Reality check:

The former actress is back, this time on a smaller screen with “Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’. This Netflix and Dharma Production show is the desi version of scripted reality TV shows like “Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ and 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills'.

She will be seen with her gal pals Bhavana Pandey, Maheep Kapoor and Seema Khan. Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan are also seen in the trailer, as a cameo in the show. Here’s a throw of the gang together in the past.

So after Indian Matrimonial, are you ready to binge watch another love-to-hate show?

We have also covered missing reports on Dino Morea, Celina Jaitly, Mallika Sherawat, Uday Chopra, Amrita Rao, Mahima Chaudhury, Harman Baweja, Shamita Shetty, Gayatri Joshi, Tanisha Mukerjee, Gracy Singh, Asin, Amrita Arora, Jugal Hansraj, Lucky Ali, Somi Ali, and Fardeen Khan.