It’s just erotica, not porn, says Shilpa

Shilpa Shetty, expectedly, defended her husband in the pornography scandal. Lets us see a few of those who are associated.

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The latest in the Raj Kundra pornography saga is his wife, Shilpa Shetty, saying that ‘erotica’ is not ‘porn’, and “my husband is innocent.” Kundra is in jail, following a revelation that he used to create and sell pornographic movies on the net. Pornography is illegal in India. It has also been alleged that he used to lure innocent girls, promising them lucrative film careers and then blackmailed them into pornographic films. Mumbai Police sources told the news agency ANI that Kundra’s actor wife Shilpa Shetty said she was unaware of the exact nature of content on ‘Hotshots’ – the mobile app via which her husband, Raj Kundra, is accused of streaming pornographic content. Shetty’s claim is that it was London-based Pradeep Bakshi, Kundra’s brother-in-law (another accused) who was involved with the app. Kundra, too, is a British citizen. Shetty’s statement has been recorded by the police. Kundra was in police custody, before being removed to 14-day judicial custody. The Police said they had seized 48 TB worth of images and videos, most of which is adult content. That is the beginning. The other trails are further damaging. According to the police, there is a record of transactions in a Yes Bank account of Kundra. These transactions showed money being siphoned off to the United Bank of Africa from where, say the police, the money (this was the receivables from the sale of pornographic content) was probably used for online betting. Not only that, Rs 7.5 crore is cash has been seized so far. There is a legal issue at hand, with Abad Ponda, Kundra’s lawyer, objecting to the classification of seized content as ‘pornography’. The lawyer said that the content could not come under Section 67 of the IT Act – for which bail is not allowed – as similar material is available on OTT platforms like Netflix. Here starts the trail of people associated with the scandal. Let us look at the different people in the case and how they are associated. Let us start at the beginning.

RAJ KUNDRA A man of many gifts

He is a British Indian businessman, once ranked 198th among richest British Asians by Success (in 2004). Father: Bal Krishan Kundra, a Punjabi who migrated from Bathinda and became a bus conductor in London before starting a small business and grew to be a middle-class businessman. Mother: Usha Rani Kundra was a shop assistant when Raj was a child. Raj Kundra was born and raised in London. At 18 he relocated to Dubai and then to Nepal, and was selling pashmina shawls to fashion retailers in Britain. That was where he made his first million. In 2007 he moved back to Dubai and started a company called Essential General Trading LLC. He was dealing in precious metals, construction, mining and renewable energy projects. Quite a mix. Slowly, he got involved in the financing and production of Bollywood films. Those were his early successful days, the success he has boasted of several times. His business interests included investments in the Indian Premier League cricket team Rajasthan Royals as well as mixed martial arts. His first marriage was to Kavita Kundra, with whom he had a daughter. After their divorce, Kundra married Shilpa Shetty in 2009. They have a son and a daughter. Kundra extended his business activities, getting involved in his wife’s charitable organisation, the Shilpa Shetty Foundation. He even found time to write a book, titled How Not to Make Money. That was in 2013. Meanwhile, he was also associated with Essential Sports and Media, a company dealing in the production and distribution of films, as well as Iconic Investments, a private fund trading in equity markets. His appetite was insatiable. He also had his finger in Satyug Gold, Super Fight League and Bastian Hospitality. The last is a Mumbai restaurant chain. As his television and media production businesses flourished, he also, probably at that time, moved deeper into the dark underbelly of pornographic content, a high selling product around the world. In India, though, it has remained illegal. He is flush with money. At a talk show, the popular comedian Kapil Sharma once asked Raj: “I see you here and there and in Singapore and you buying expensive gifts for Shilpa. But I don’t see you work? What work do you do?” All had a good laugh, but some indications of Kundra’s wealth are on view now. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Maharashtra had said that they have received four emails alleging that Kundra had bribed Mumbai Police officers Rs 25 lakh to evade arrest. All that money has gone to waste.It has been said that when police raided a bungalow at Madh village in Malad, some young boys and girls were found filming and recording nude and vulgar videos and uploading them on various online platforms. That is what is called being caught red-handed. That was the last nail in the coffin.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra: Big Boss International was what brought Shilpa to big-time fame

Shilpa Shetty is a well-known Indian actress, film producer, dancer, author, businesswoman and former model who predominantly appeared in Hindi-language films and the former winner of Big Boss International. Actually, Big Boss International was what brought Shilpa to big-time fame. That was in 2007 when she joined the fifth season of the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother. This is a strange reality show, fit for underdeveloped craniums, but pretty popular, nevertheless. During her stay in the ‘house’ (yes, the so-called actors stay in a house and do idiotic things; the more idiotic, the better… all on live television). Not very sure what Shilpa did there, but she received huge international media coverage, allegedly for the racism she faced by the fellow contestants. The rest, as they say, is history.

Umesh Kamat Soap suds of fame Here is another person connected to the scandal. Who is Kamat? He is an actor and model, working mainly in Marathi regional films, and television series, plays, and TV commercials. His claim to fame is daily soaps, and he has really lathered himself up pretty well these days. Some memorable soap suds are Adinath Shastri from Asambhav and Nishad from Shubham Karoti as well as the popular role as advocate Om Chaudhary in Eka Lagnachi Teesri Goshta. That was in 2013. Recently, he has been seen in Mumbai Time. What is his connection to the scandal? He has confessed that Kundra is very much involved in broadcasting such pornographic videos on apps and said that Kundra has also made WhatsApp groups to stay in contact with the app. That’s a lot of soap.

Kavita Kundra: Just an unfortunate marriage

Kavita, as we have introduced before, is the ex-wife of Raj. She is an Indian origin Brit, hailing from a British business family. Born and brought up in London, where she met Raj and married him in 2003. The marriage lasted 3 years. Now she lives with her girl Delina in her dad’s home in London. Her connection to Raj, unfortunately, is just her marriage (file picture on right). We can count her out of all the mischief.

Dawood Ibrahim: The D Company Boss, Now that’s a big name. How is this international terrorist, the most wanted man in India, connected to this lurid scheme of RaJ? Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar is originally from Dongri, Mumbai, now, reportedly, lives in Karachi. And the connection? Through a man called Ranjeet Bindra, who is a known aide of Dawood’s henchman Iqbal Mirchi. Even the henchmen of Dawood wield huge influence, it seems. Now, Kundra and his wife’s company Essential Hospitality (as introduced earlier), took loans from RKW Developers which has Bindra on the board. How did this happen? ED has said that Bindra brokered deals between Mirchi and Sunblink Real Estate Private Limited. Now, this last-mentioned company is a killer: it is owned by Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL) founder Dheeraj Wadhawan’s brother-in-law. Not only has DHFL been involved in shady deals, bringing down banks, it seems Sunblink is a front company for Dawood, involved in terror funding. That is the biggest setback for Kundra, way more than his involvement in pornographic films.

Ranjeet Bindra A Dawood operative This “connection” is proving costly for Kundra. Way back in October 2019, when being grilled by the ED, Kundra had admitted to knowing Ranjeet Singh Bindra, but Kundra had also said that he was not aware that Ranjeet worked for Dawood. Why did the ED worry about this? The ED was at that time scrutinising Kundra’s business dealings and transactions with Ranjeet Singh Bindra. Kundra had reportedly told the investigating agency that their relationship was purely professional. What “purely professional” meant, though, remains in the realms of conjecture. Even then, Raj Kundra’s activities were under a cloud, being investigated under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). It was learnt that at that time Raj Kundra had also submitted documents related to his business dealings with Bindra and RKW Developers. The issue at the time was about Iqbal Mirchi properties and Bindra was the first accused.

Sagarika Shona Suman ‘Raj demanded nude auditions’, Sagarika Shona is a model and also acts in Hindi movies and web series. How is she connected to this? She has said that Raj Kundra demanded nude auditions. Sagarika has been quoted as saying: “I am disturbed and depressed because I am getting calls from different online platforms. They are threatening me. I am getting threats of death and rape. People are calling me from different numbers and asking me what wrong has Raj Kundra done. They are threatening me and accusing me of shutting down their business. They even said that you people watch porn films that’s why we are making it.”In a video statement she has released, she has said that she thinks her life is in danger. To back up her complaint, she has filed a complaint at the Oshiwara police station, Mumbai, where she has said that she has been receiving life-threatening calls after filing an initial complaint against Kundra.That complaint was lodged in February. It was in that complaint that she claimed that Kundra had asked her for a ‘nude audition’. The complaint was filed under the sections of the Indian Penal Code, Informational Technology Act, and Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibited Act at the Malwani police station. 

Poonam Pandey ‘Stolen’ properties, Poonam Pandey is a known figure in the erotic film industry of India. She is also a model. Pandey is best known for her nude portrayal on online platforms. Her debut Bollywood film was Nasha in 2013, culmination of her modelling career. The glossy magazine Gladrags held strange contests, called Manhunt and Megamodel, where she emerged as one of the top nine contestants. That put her on the cover of the magazine. Earlier this year she revealed that a business disengagement contract was not honoured. She said in her criminal case against Raj Kundra that his company used to handle her app. However, even after the contract was terminated, they continued to post her pictures and videos on the app. When Kundra was arrested, Poonam released an official statement that read: “At this moment my heart goes out to Shilpa Shetty & her kids. I can’t imagine what she must be going through. So, I refuse to use this opportunity to highlight my trauma. The only thing I’ll add is that I have filed a police complaint in 2019 against Raj Kundra and subsequently registered a case at the honourable high court of Bombay against him for fraud & theft. This matter is sub-judice, hence I would prefer to limit my statements. Also, I have full faith in our police & the judicial process.”

Kangana Ranaut Dark underbelly thoughts, Kangana Ranaut is not new to controversy. Reacting to this incident, she has come out strongly, saying (on Instagram): “This is why I call movie industry a gutter… all that glitter (sic) is not gold, I am going to expose underbelly of Bollywood in my upcoming production called Tiku weds Sheru.. we need strong value system and conscience in the creative industry and of course a whip.”

Vandana Tiwari aka Gehana Vasisth Support for Kundra, Vandana Tiwari is better known by her stage name Gehana Vasisth. Here is one actress, model and television presenter who has come out in support of Kundra. Of course, she, along with Kundra and others had been arrested by Mumbai Police and she is now out on bail. Her words have to be, thus, taken at face value only. But who is she? She was a busy model, having worked for several brands – as many as 80 advertisements feature her – as a model. The height of her career was when she was crowned Miss Asia Bikini. It is not clear if she was a model at the time or if the bikini was being promoted as a product. Her entry into films was through a film called Filmy Duniya where she had the lead role. She also had several roles in Telugu cinema and then worked in many web series including Gandi Baat season 3 on Alt Balaji.

What does Gehana say? In a video statement, she has released, she said: “I have a small request for everyone to not compare bold and erotica cinema with porn. Raj Kundra and I have been arrested for the same case, we have the same investigation going on. I know what was being made under Kundra’s company. I have worked as a heroine in 3 films produced for Raj Kundra’s app. He never forced me to do anything, I was paid according to the work I did and deserved. I had no issues with the work or the payment I received. I had no objections to the content, nor did I have any bad experience of working on the sets. Those films were released very well and neither of those films were porn movies. Those who have a doubt can use Google search and look for those films and my other work. None of it can be classified as porn.”The lady was interviewed by a major newspaper, where she has reportedly said: “Just a few days before I got arrested, I went to Raj’s office. There I got to know that he is planning to launch an app called Bollyfame. They were planning to showcase reality shows, chat shows, music videos and non-bold films on the app. We also discussed a few scripts and thought about casting Shamita Shetty in one script, Sai Tamhankar and a few other actors.”Things were going swimmingly, when the castle of cards came tumbling down.

Sherlyn Chopra: The bold and the neutral Sherlyn Chopra is an Indian actress and model who worked in Hindi films. She is used to erotica and this part of the entertainment history, being the first Indian woman to pose nude for Playboy magazine. She did that in July 2012. Quite a bold feat. That she would be landing in this quagmire was almost expected. She has been a host of a successful TV show, called MTV Splitsvilla and then she started to sing, releasing her music single, titled ‘Bad Girl’ in December 2013. She added reality show to her repertoire, becoming a contestant in the Indian version Bigg Boss in 2009. She has said that she was the first person to give her opinion on Kundra – a neutral version – to the investigating team of the Maharashtra Cyber Cell. What did she say? She also released a Hindi video – this seems to be the favoured method of releasing statements these days – “For the past few days several journalists and mediapersons have been calling me, emailing me and texting me to learn what is my take on this topic. I would like to inform you all that I was the first person to give my statement to the investigating team of the Maharashtra Cyber Cell. I was also the first person to share information with them about Armsprime.”

Rakhi Sawant ‘Raj is a respectable man’, Everybody who is anybody is talking about the case. Therefore, Rakhi Sawant. Sawant isn’t happy with Kundra’s arrest. She has said that Raj is a respectable man and Shilpa is a very hardworking actress. On the alleged involvement of Shilpa, Sawant said Shilpa doesn’t deserve to go through all this. Her idea is that somebody is trying to blackmail Raj, malign his image. That is an interesting thought. She also revealed how Shilpa helped her with a few projects and then claimed someone is trying to defame her (Shilpa).

Mika Singh‘Maine ek app dekhi thi, wo simple app thi’, Another support for Kundra has come from singer Mika Singh. To Mika, Kundra is a “nice guy.” That’s what he told the paparazzi. His quote was: “Main toh wait hi kar raha hoon ke kya hoga. Let’s see. Jo bhi hoga acha hoga, mujhe itna knowledge nahi hai unke app ke baare mein. Maine ek app dekhi thi, wo simple app thi. Zyada kuch tha nahi uske andar. So let’s hope for the best.”

Sunny Suresh Bathija Fingers in many pies, Sunny Suresh Bathija has five registered companies, and has fingers in many pies, none too hygienic. These companies are: Indu Shelters LLP, Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd, Contemporary Retail Pvt Ltd., Arav Jiehaan Builders And Developers Pvt Ltd and Cloud Nine Realtors Pvt Ltd.Together, the companies form a web that can circulate monies quickly, possibly for purposes of laundering and towards further evil ends. Kundra had dealings with him too.