Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty. Image Credit: AFP

A day after Mumbai Police arrested Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra for allegedly producing and broadcasting pornographic films online, industry insiders are still reeling from the explosive nature of the case. 

The Mumbai Police has claimed that Kundra and his brother-in-law Pradeep Bakshi were running an international porn racket through their content production companies based in India and the United Kingdom.

Kundra is the owner of Viaan Industries Ltd, while Bakshi — a British citizen, who is married to Kundra’s sister — is the Chairman of Kenrin Ltd, London.

Raj Kundra, Shilpa Shetty Image Credit: IANS

Mumbai’s Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Milind Bharambe said that the two companies had a mobile app called ‘HotShots Digital Entertainment’, developed by Kenrin Ltd. “Though the company was registered in London, the content creation, operation of the app and accounting was done through Kundra’s Viaan Industries,” said Bharambe.

The HotShots app is described as the “world’s first 18+ app” showcasing photos and videos of models and celebrities.

“The free to download app was yanked off by both Apple and Google Playstore for the type of its content. The Mumbai Police have recovered incriminating evidences like several HotShot films, video clips, WhatsApp chats, etc during the investigation,” Bharambe told a crowded media gathering.

Police said on July 20 that the 45-year-old businessman was “the key conspirator” in a case involving the creation and publication of adult films via apps. Here’s what else we know about the case so far:

What is the case against Raj Kundra?

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Police escort arrested Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra (L) for allegedly producing and broadcasting pornographic films online, in Mumbai on July 20, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Kundra was arrested late on Monday on alleged charges of making and publishing pornographic content and publishing them through mobile applications. Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale made the announcement on Kundra’s arrest based on a case registered in February.

“There was a case registered with the Crime Branch Mumbai in February 2021 about creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps. We’ve arrested Mr Raj Kundra in this case on 19/7/21 as he appears to be the key conspirator of this. We have sufficient evidences regarding this,” the police commissioner said in a statement.

The case was registered on February 4 at the Malwani police station in suburban Mumbai.

Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra
Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra Image Credit: Instagram.com/rajkundra9

An FIR was registered against Kundra after a woman approached the police and made certain allegations in her complaint, another official said.

“We will conduct a probe into the case against Raj Kundra and find out if there is any link between this and pornography cases which we had registered earlier,” the official said.

Kundra was booked under IPC Sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays), and relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, he said.

At least 11 people have been arrested in the case, including Kundra and his IT associate Ryan Thorpe. They were both remanded to police custody till July 23 by a Mumbai Magistrate Court.

India has stringent laws against publishing and transmitting “obscene material”.

Shilpa Shetty’s involvement

Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra
Image Credit: Insta/rajkundra9

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Milind Bharambe said that the police has not yet been able to any find any active role of Shilpa Shetty in the case.

“Crime Branch Mumbai this February registered a case related to pornographic films. New actors were promised roles in web series and short stories and they were asked to do bold and nude scenes in auditions. Female actors opposed this and approached the Crime Branch based on which a case was registered. During the investigation, nine accused were arrested. Some people forcefully get such films produced."

"A man named Umesh Kamat who was looking after the India operations for the company of business of Raj Kundra was arrested,” he said.

“We have not been able to any find any active role [of Shilpa Shetty] yet. We are investigating. We will appeal to the victims to come forward and contact the Crime Branch Mumbai and we’ll take appropriate action,” Bharambe added.

Time of India reported that the actress “may be called by the cops to record a statement sometime soon.”

Kundra has two children with Shetty, who is known for being the 2007 winner of British reality show ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ apart from her Bollywood roles.

Celebrity reactions

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Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut. Image Credit: ANI

Kangana Ranaut on Tuesday shared her views on Kundra’s arrest and reiterated her disdain for the Indian film industry.

“This is why I call movie industry a gutter... all that glitter is not gold, I am going to expose under belly of Bullywood in my upcoming production called Tiku weds Sheru... we need strong value system and conscience in the creative industry and of course a whip,” she said.

Following the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June 2020, Ranaut railed against Bollywood power-brokers and alleged misconduct in the industry.

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Mika Singh Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Singer Mika Singh, however, had positive things to say about Kundra.

Talking with the paparazzi in Mumbai he described Kundra as a “lovely man.” He added that while he was unfamiliar with the app in question, he had seen one of Raj’s other apps. “Whatever happens, will be for the good. I don’t have much knowledge about his app. I have seen one of his apps and that was simple, wasn’t anything in it,” Singh said in Hindi. “I think he’s a nice guy, Raj Kundra. The court will decide what’s right and what’s wrong.”

YouTuber says Kundra contacted her

YouTuber Puneet Kaur
YouTuber Puneet Kaur Image Credit: instagram.com/kaurbeautyy

YouTuber Puneet Kaur claimed that Kundra approached her via social media direct messaging for his mobile app, through which pornographic content produced by him was reportedly published.

The YouTuber said that after receiving message from Kundra she could not believe that it was actually him who had sent her that message and thought that it might be spam.

“Brooooo you OGS remember our verified DM video where he reached out to me for Hotshots? I’m dead,” Kaur wrote on her Instagram story reacting to a news piece about Kundra playing a key role in making the Hotshots application.

- With inputs from agencies