The Mumbai Police revealed on Tuesday that arrested businessman Raj Kundra and his brother-in-law Pradeep Bakshi are the alleged masterminds of an international pornographic film racket carried out through their content production companies in India and the United Kingdom.
Kundra, the husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, is the owner of Viaan Industries Ltd, which the couple co-founded, and Bakshi, a British citizen who is married to Kundra’s sister, is the Chairman of Kenrin Ltd., London.
The two companies had a mobile app called ‘HotShots Digital Entertainment,’ developed by Kenrin Ltd, according to Mumbai’s Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Milind Bharambe.
The HotShots app is billed as the “world’s first 18+ app,” featuring some of the world’s hottest models and celebrities in exclusive photos, short films, and hot videos – implying soft-to-hard porn.
“The free app was removed from both the Apple and Google Playstores due to the nature of its content. During the investigation, the Mumbai Police recovered incriminating evidence such as several HotShot films, video clips, WhatsApp chats, and so on “Bharambe told a crowded press conference.
He stated that the investigation into Kundra’s entire affair began in February 2021, when the Malvani police station blew the lid off by lodging a complaint about pornographic content being produced and shot at some bungalows on the remote Madh Island and its surroundings in the coastal areas of Malad in north-west Mumbai.
The police investigation revealed startling revelations about how new or aspiring actresses from all over India were lured to Mumbai with work offers in short films, webseries, and other movies.
They were called in for auditions and then chosen to do bold scenes, which progressed to semi-nude and then full-nude shoots. “Some of them were vehemently opposed and had approached the police,” Bharambe said.
Following the creation of the content, the two companies – Viaan and Kendrin – made it available on mobile apps, offering subscriptions similar to mainstream OTT platforms, and advertising it on social media, all of which were illegal because pornography in any form is prohibited in India.
At least 12 arrests have been made so far as a result of investigations by the Malvani Police and later by the Crime Branch-CID and Property Cell, including Kundra and his techie associate Ryan J. Tharpe, who were remanded to police custody until July 23 by a Mumbai Magistrate Court.
TV actress Gehna Vashisht, 32, Yasmin R. Khan, 40, Monu Joshi, 28, Pratibha Nalavade, 33, M. Atif Ahmed, 24, Dipankar P. Khasnavis, 38, Bhanusurya Thakur, 26, Tanvir Hashmi, 40, and Umesh Kamath, 39 were among those arrested earlier.
Kamat, a close confidante of Kundra, was in charge of Viaan’s India operations, which also handled the full operations of HotShots, including content creation, accounts, and other details, in collaboration with Kendrin Ltd., according to police.
According to authoritative Bollywood and police sources, the ongoing investigation into the Kundra case “may be just the tip of the porno-iceberg” that thrives in the entertainment circles, aided or abetted by some high-profile’model or acting coordinators’ in south Mumbai and western suburbs, with huge stakes involved.
“There are dark rumours that many famous people, including models, actors, and actresses, are involved in this. ‘Sex-rave parties’ are held in secret locations in India and abroad, where the acts are filmed, packaged as ‘hot content,’ and sold for millions on various media platforms around the world “On the condition of anonymity, a top producer told IANS.