| Gustad: Skeletons tumble out
London, June 19: Kaizad Gustad’s troubles are growing. The Times newspaper in London today insulted him by calling him a “Bollywood director” — he no doubt sees himself as a cut above — and then revealed he is wanted by British police for allegedly threatening an author and his family with a baseball bat.
The author has written a novel about a man who funds his films by smuggling drugs. Gustad, who was once friendly with the author, has been deeply angered by the plot.
Asked to comment on The Times story with the headline, “Bollywood death director wanted in Britain over threats to writer”, a spokeswoman for Scotland Yard confirmed today: “In May of last year, we received allegation of demanding money with menaces.”
The complaint had been registered by a West London man who had received threatening telephone messages from another man demanding money. The latter had also threatened the former and his family in Kensington Park.
The spokeswoman added that the suspect’s identity had been circulated on the Police National Computer. She would not say whether the suspect would be arrested if he arrived in Britain.
It was left to The Times today to divulge that the suspect is Kaizad Gustad, while the author is one William Rhode, 32, who has published a novel with the title, Paperback Raita (a rip-off of The Beatles’ number Paperback Writer).
Gustad, in some way, feels he has been ripped off, and he must have some justification for The Times reveals that he “won compensation six months ago”, from Rhode’s publisher, Simon & Schuster.
Most people will look for clues in the plot of the novel to try to understand why Gustad and Rhode, described as former friends, have fallen out.
The story is about Joshua King, whose father dies of a Viagra overdose. The son can inherit a multi-million pound inheritance on condition he writes a best-selling novel. “Sadly, the seedy parts of the book came over as the most credible,” said a reviewer. “We weren’t that sympathetic to Joshua — we felt he deserved whatever was coming to him.”
The family of Nadia Khan, 26, the British Asian assistant director killed on Gustad’s set, increasingly feels he deserves whatever is coming to him.
Nadia’s married sister, Ruby Rizvi, told The Times: “Gustad is definitely a compulsive and pathetic liar. He had everyone fooled about the real cause of Nadia’s death. And now that I look back, I feel furious at myself for not seeing through him.”
The Times says it has seen documents which show that Gustad “sent abusive e-mails to Rhode and left him and his family afraid for their lives”.
According to the paper, “the harassment campaign began, Mr Rhode alleges, after he published his first novel, Paperback Raita, last year. He had known Mr Gustad seven years earlier in India and admits that he had drawn on his experiences in Bombay for the book. Mr Gustad believed that the novel’s anti-hero, who smuggled drugs to fund his film projects, was based on him.”
The Times continues: “In court last May, Mr Gustad admitted e-mailing a message to Mr Rhode detailing his libel complaint. It read: ‘If I don’t succeed legally, you can be assured I will, every other way, until such time as I clear my name... I know where you live. I know your number on both sides of the Atlantic. I have your residential address in NY. I know where your wife works... You want me to tell you what you did yesterday and where, I can’.”
The Times says: “Over the next few weeks a series of anonymous telephone calls were made to Mr Rhode’s home.”
Rhode told the paper: “My wife was eight and a half months pregnant when he started sending threatening e-mails and making telephone calls. Two weeks after my wife gave birth, he came to our house and threatened her and my three-year-old son with a baseball bat unless I pay him money. He was able to identify my wife in a park without ever having met her before, which made us fear that he was stalking us. As a young family, we were vulnerable and he saw that as his opportunity.”
In court, Gustad denied that he had been anywhere near the house on the day in question when he appeared at the High Court in London after Rhode sued him for harassment. Nevertheless, he undertook voluntarily to stay away from Rhode, his wife and his two young children.