HT Image
HT Image

Raj Kundra had plans to live stream porn content: Mumbai Police

Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra, his brother-in-law Pardeep Bakshi and their manager Umesh Kamat had plans to start from February 20, 2021, live streaming of porn content through a new application, ‘Bollyfame’
By Manish K Pathak, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 21, 2021 10:39 PM IST

Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra, his brother-in-law Pardeep Bakshi and their manager Umesh Kamat had plans to start from February 20, 2021, live streaming of porn content through a new application, ‘Bollyfame’. However, the plan was dropped as Kamat was arrested on February 7, the probe has revealed.

A crime branch officer said after some apps were removed from mobile app stores by Apple and Google in 2020, and Maharashtra cyber-crime officers booked directors and owners of various over-the-top (OTT) platforms and websites for allegedly showing obscene content, Kundra and his associates came started working on a new app to live stream porn content.

They, the officer said, even created a WhatsApp group in the name of the future application, Bollyfame, and Kundra had revealed his plans on the group to Kamat and others. As per Kamat’s statement to police, initially, they wanted to launch the live streaming in January 2021, but it was delayed and February 20 was fixed as the launching date, the police officer added.

Kamat also revealed in his statement to police that Kundra had told them on WhatsApp that they will shut down the Hotshot app and will also remove the obscene contents to avoid the investigation, the officer added.

The racket came to light after the property cell received specific information about a porn filming racket and registered a case on February 4, 2021. The cell raided a bungalow in the Madh area and arrested five persons, including two women engaged in shooting a pornographic film. Police claimed to have rescued a young woman, who was allegedly lured into acting in a short film and forced to perform sex on camera.

During the investigation police also found the alleged involvement of actor and model Gehana Vashisht in filming porn. Police arrested Kamat as she revealed that bought porn films from her and sent the films to the UK for uploading on Hotshots. Kamat then led police to Kundra.

During the course of the probe, the property cell inspected Kundra’s office in Andheri on Tuesday and seized the server and several other electronic equipment from his office to scrutinise the technical aspects to gather more evidence.

Kamat, who was also buying pornographic films shot by another arrested accused, Rowan Khan, was working as per the instructions of Kundra and contacted directors like Vashisht, Khan and several others and buy pornographic videos from them and sent those videos to the UK, from where those were uploaded on mobile app Hotshot, said the crime branch officer.

The crime branch has so far frozen various bank accounts having deposits of around 7.5 crore, including an amount of around 3 crore lying in a bank account of wanted accused Yash Thakur, a native of Madhya Pradesh, currently residing in Singapore. The officer said he was running the app Nueflicks.

Police are now scrutinising evidence seized from Kundra’s office like subscription hits, WhatsApp chats, agreement papers, emails and account details.

Another police officer said the groups mainly targeted young women coming from outside to the city to try their luck in the film and television industry. Police officers said taking advantage of their desperation and helplessness, the accused allegedly lured them by offering roles in short films or web series. Initially, they would ask them to perform some “bold” scenes, but eventually either offer them more money to act in porn films or threaten them with the help of agreements, if they refused to budge.

The officers said the gang has exploited many women and men by making several pornography films. The accused have been operating the racket for about two years. Khan threatened actors and forcing them to act in porn videos, said the crime branch officer.

The Mumbai Police crime branch claimed Kundra had got a mobile application Hotshot developed for running a pornographic film racket and used to control its entire operation himself through WhatsApp groups and business was operated from his Andheri office.

Kundra, along with one Sourabh Kushwah, according to the remand application, had in February 2019 started a company namely, Arms Prime Media Pvt Ltd. Around six months later, the company developed a mobile phone application, Hotshot, and then sold it to Kenrin Ltd., a London-based entity owned by Kundra’s relative Pardeep Bakshi for $25,000. In December 2019, Kundra resigned from Arms Prime Media, after which, one Sanjay Tripathi, a witness in the case, took it over.

The mobile phone application, available only to paid subscribers, was used to upload pornographic content, shot in Mumbai and surrounding areas, police claimed.

The remand application added that other accused and witnesses in the case have revealed that the pornographic films shot in Mumbai were transferred to Kenrin, London, from where the obscene content was uploaded on the Hotshot app. Kundra controlled the entire operation of the app through three WhatsApp groups that he had created in the name of “HS,” and that Kundra was the administrator of these WhatsApp groups.

Police further claimed that it was through these groups — HS Accounts, HS Take Down and HS Operations — Kundra monitored the content, payments to artists and the revenue generated through the app. Bakshi made the payments based on Kundra’s instructions. Kamat was operating from office premises belonging to Kundra and coordinated with Kernin Ltd.

Police on Monday night arrested Kundra and one Ryan Thorpe, a Nerul resident and an expert in information technology, who allegedly helped maintain the mobile phone application through two of his associates. Both Kundra and Thorpe are in police custody till July 23 for further investigation.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP