Shouldn’t be punished twice for one crime, says Rajpal Yadav on fraud charges
Bollywood actor Rajpal Yadav says he had to pay a heavy price for his directorial debut Ata Pata Lapata, losing his money as well as credibility as he sought to see the project through.
The actor, known for his films like Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon and Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh, was recently held guilty by a Delhi court along with his wife Radha Yadav and their film production company Messrs Shree Naurang Godavari Entertainment Limited for failing to repay a loan of Rs 5 crore.
“There are three things. Either somebody invested Rs 5 crore or somebody loaned this much money. The third thing is that Rajpal Yadav was involved in a fraud. Only one of these three things can be right. Please let me know which of these I am getting punished for,” Yadav says.
Yadav says Delhi-based businessman Madhav Gopal Aggarwal saw the rushes of his 2010 film and decided to invest Rs 5 crore through his company, Murali Projects. Yadav agreed to repay Rs 8 crore with the first earnings in return.
Madhav Gopal’s company approached a court after Yadav failed to pay the amount. More disputes arose between the two, following which the businessman moved the Delhi high court seeking a stay on the release of the film.
“ ... These people went to the high court right when the buzz around Ata Pata Lapata was picking up. Stories started coming out that Rajpal is involved in a fraud,” the 47-year-old says.
“The honourable high court asked us to give an undertaking and the film was cleared to release, but the negative publicity harmed us,” Yadav adds.
The film was released on 190 screens with 1,000 prints but, Yadav says, they were not enough as he did not earn much. All the eight cheques issued by the actor towards repayment were dishonoured due to “insufficient funds” and the court held him guilty of contempt.
“I never denied that they invested Rs 5 crore in the film but I have also lost Rs 17 crore in the process and that happened only because of them. I have already paid approximately Rs 2 crore to them, but the contempt case says that I need to pay them Rs 5 crore. Will that be above it? You can’t get two punishments for the same crime,” he says.
The actor has refuted all the charges in the Delhi court, saying he did not take any loan from Madhav Gopal and rather the money was invested by the businessman in the film. He also said that the cheques that bounced were given as a security and hence the money was a mere investment.
Yadav says Madhav Gopal is like family to him and he trusted him. “But they made me sign papers that I didn’t read. My only fault was that I trusted their words,” he says.
The court, however, held that the actor is conversant with the English language and his argument that he signed the documents without reading them appears to be “moonshine and frivolous in nature”.
“Actually, I think these Rs 5 crore harmed my wealth, career and reputation. I am still ready to pay them. Mujhe khula chhodo, main chheh mahine mey chuka dunga,” the actor says.
But, legal counsel for Madhav Gopal’s company SK Sharma says the amount of Rs 5 crore was given to Yadav as a loan and it was not an investment in the film.
“It was written in the agreement that we are not concerned whether the film works or not, but the principal amount should be returned with interest. It wasn’t a joint venture,” Sharma says.
Madhav Gopal’s lawyer says Yadav issued Rs 11,68,00,000, the principal amount and the interest accrued on it, through eight cheques towards the repayment.
“All of them were dishonoured because of insufficient funds, so we filed eight complaints against him. We also filed a criminal case against his company and that suit is also decreed,” Sharma says.
The sentencing in the case will take place in the Karkardooma court on April 23.
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