MUMBAI: In a case that has shocked the country, popular 90s actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband, businessman Raj Kundra, was arrested on Monday by the Mumbai police in a case related to the alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps, a senior official said.
Shetty was at home during the raid, with her spouse being transported to the residence as well. In a recent development, after the couple’s Juhu home was raided by the Mumbai police for over six hours, Crime Branch officials left the residence with a recorded statement from Shetty, according to Mid-Day. It was further reported that a police official revealed that Shetty spoke to the police about the films being “erotica” and not porn.
The official said, “She (Shetty) said that the movies available on Hotshot are not pornography but erotica. She also said that nowadays, similar content is available on the various OTT platforms and in fact, some are more obscene than what is available on Hotshots.” Kundra denied any involvement in the production of pornographic films during questioning, as did his wife.
The businessman is reported to have told police officials that the matter was handled by his brother-in-law Pradeep Bakshi in London and that he only chatted about it briefly with Bakshi via WhatsApp. An official said in a statement to Mid-Day, “We have enough evidence that he (Raj Kundra) was dealing with everything, his brother-in-law was made the owner of the London-based company just for namesake.” It was also reported that the police officials did not believe Shetty was directly linked to the case.
The 90s actor was reportedly interrogated for hours by officials about her 2020 decision to exit Viaan Industries. It is reportedly suspected that the move was a result of Shetty wanting to avoid any legal issues due to the connection between Kenrin Limited, Hotshots and Viaan Industries. The videos in question were allegedly shot under the pretext of giving those involved a chance to work on leading OTT platforms. An Indian court on Friday extended the custody of Kundra, police said, in the pornography case that has stunned the country’s film industry. After his arrest on Monday, Kundra appeared before the court on Friday for his bail hearing. The court ordered Kundra into police custody until July 27, S Chaitanya, Mumbai police spokesman, told Reuters. A lawyer for Kundra and a spokeswoman for Shetty did not respond to repeated requests for comments.
Local media reports said police questioned Shetty about her involvement in the case, but Chaitanya refused to comment on the matter. According to ANI, the officials involved suspect that Kundra was using the money earned from the alleged pornographic content for online betting. The police thus informed the court that the money in Kundra’s two bank accounts would need to be probed for further information.
Earlier, it was reported by the Times of India that the Crime Branch had uncovered a bank transfer into Kundra’s account made by the Hotshots mobile app. The transaction reportedly took place in January 2021, one month before the case against Kundra was filed and Hotshot’s operator Gehana Vasisth was arrested.
As reported by the news outlet, Vasisth elaborated on Kundra’s involvement in an interview with Navbharat Times. She 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.”
According to Times of India, Kundra allegedly had plans to finalize an international deal worth USD 1.2 million involving the sale of “119 erotic” videos. Officials claimed that Kundra planned to sell the adult films for millions to a “person”. According to the report, officials also discovered a transfer of funds from a South African sports betting firm into Kundra’s bank account.
The police reportedly seized 51 obscene videos from the businessman’s office. An employee who worked to manage Kundra’s app also revealed to the police that in August 2019 and November 2020, the app earned a net profit of GBP 4,000 to GBP 10,000 each month. Kundra has been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays) besides relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.–Reuters.