Here’s what we know about the shocking allegations.
By Ashima Sethi
Raj Kundra‘s nightmare began on the 4th of February this year when the Mumbai Police received an anonymous tip that a pornographic film was being shot at a bungalow on the popular weekend destination of Madh Island. In the raid that followed, officials found two individuals in compromising positions and concrete evidence that the shoot was indeed for pornography purposes. Keep in mind that creating and distributing pornography is illegal in India.
The woman involved in the shoot filed an official complaint with the police department, claiming that she had been manipulated into the job, a complaint that eventually led to the arrest of Raj Kundra, also known as Shilpa Shetty’s husband, earlier this week on the 19th of July.
A shock to many, Mumbai Police have arrested the businessman and named him a ‘key conspirator’ in a case that they had been building for a while that is related to the creation of digital distribution of pornographic material. He will now be in judicial custody until the 23rd of July while his bail is under consideration.
According to our research and what’s been made available to the public at this time, it is alleged that Raj’s company Viaan Industries was working with UK-based company Kenrin, which owns an application called Hotshots that has a history of publishing supposedly pornographic films. It is believed that Kenrin is owned by Raj Kundra’s brother-in-law.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Milind Bharambe, although Kenrin was registered in the United Kingdom, the finances, filming and content creation, and operation of the application were primarily done through Viaan Industries. Over time, the police have gathered evidence in the form of porn films found in Raj’s office, WhatsApp logs, emails, and accounting details that they believe demonstrate the connection between the two businesses.
The police decided to launch an investigation into Raj’s dealings after more complaints followed the one that was filed by a woman in February. According to police records, several actresses were promised roles in various web series or short films, but when they arrived for shooting, it turned out that the films required them to do inappropriate scenes or nude scenes and if they said no, they were threatened with footing the bill for the entire shoot.
The movies were then distributed via a network of subscription-based apps that were advertised through social media. It’s believed that these apps have become extremely popular during the lockdown period, with some having a subscriber base of a few hundred thousand. The police believe that Raj purposely registered his distribution channels in the UK to avoid breaking India’s cybercrime laws.
Since the news broke, several celebrities have weighed in on the arrest. Earlier this year, erotic performer Poonam Pandey had filed a criminal case against Raj claiming that he continued to use her photos and videos on his apps despite terminating her contract. She said: “My heart goes out to Shilpa and her kids, I can’t imagine what she must be going through so I refuse to use this opportunity to highlight my trauma… [but I will say ] I registered a case [in 2019] at the high court of Bombay against him for fraud and theft.”
Gehana Vasisth has also been arrested, linked to Raj’s case. In an official statement she said: “I have a small request for everyone to not compare bold and erotica cinema with porn. I know what was being made under Kundra’s company. He never forced me to do anything, I was paid according to the work I did and deserved.”
At the moment, the police have not found any evidence linking Shilpa Shetty to her husband’s business dealings, nor do they know if she was aware of the work he was undertaking.
More to this story as it develops.