A complaint has been filed seeking a probe into producer Mukul Deora’s finances used for the development funding of the Netflix film, ‘The White Tiger’.
The formal request was sent to India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) asking the entity to look into the dealings of late Indian politician Murli Deora’s son, Mukul Deora, his chartered accountant Sharad Seksaria, and Netflix.
A request was made to probe Mukul Deora’s shell companies by Sonia Mudbhatkal, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey-based Continuum Media LLC.
The request comes after a Delhi High Court refused to stay the release of film ‘The White Tiger’ on a plea by Hollywood producer John Hart Jr, alleging copyright violation.
Reacting to the charges, Mukul Deora pointed out the Delhi High Court had already observed that it was not possible to come to any conclusion that, by producing or releasing the film, the defendants had indulged in illegal copyright infringement or transgressed the right of the plaintiff, as is being alleged.
The complaint by Mudbhatkal states Mukul Deora used a front to pump money into the project.
“Mukul Deora’s lawyer Sandeep Sethi openly admits that the Irish offshore entity Particle Media (Mukul’s benami entity), which on paper belongs to Raj Lakhani (Mukul Deora’s benamidar, who is a Hong Kong resident and British Passport holder as told to us) is in fact Mukul Deora’s company,” the complaint said.
In 2019, Mudbhatkal’s advocates had sent a legal notice to Netflix to stop production of ‘The White Tiger’.
The notice mentioned that Particle Media is in the process of shutting down, and the advocates suspected that Mukul Deora had transferred the motion picture rights of the film to a Singapore entity in order to become sole owner of ‘The White Tiger’, which it claimed was in violation of the rights of Mudbhatkal and in breach of contractual commitments made by Mukul Deora to Mudbhatkal.
Later, Mukul Deora issued a statement reacting to the charges.
“I have a deep respect for and full faith in the judiciary of India. As you are aware, on 21 January 2021, upon a holistic consideration of the facts, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, among other things, rejected the demand by the Plaintiffs and refused to stay the release of ‘The White Tiger’.
“I understand that the Delhi High Court observed that it was not possible, based on the material on record before it, to come to any prima facie conclusion that, by producing or releasing the film, the Defendants indulged in illegal copyright infringement or transgressed the right of the Plaintiff as was alleged in the matter. The matter is currently subjudice and I look forward to the completion of the legal proceedings in this matter. The truth will continue to prevail,” read the complete statement.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who stars in the Netflix film, is also a producer of the movie, along with Hollywood filmmaker Ava Duvernay.
— With inputs from Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor