London, July 22: A coordinated approach to bring down Shilpa Shetty appears to have been launched in London, with two newspapers — the News of the World and the Mail on Sunday — carrying remarkably similar allegations today about how the winner of Celebrity Big Brother has been instrumental in ending the marriage of Raj Kundra, a 31-year-old Indian businessman in the UK.
A source who knows Shilpa told The Telegraph: “Raj has been around, he helped launch Shilpa’s perfume, and I have seen them sitting together but I have not seen any evidence they are involved.”
On her trips to London, Shilpa, 32, is always accompanied by her ubiquitous mother, Sunanda, who supervises her daughter’s growing portfolio of financial interests and presumably ensures that she does not form what she might deem to be an inappropriate relationship. Some say Kundra is a polished and wealthy young man while others consider him, however unfairly, to be little more than a wide boy.
A popular view is: “With her mum always around, how can Shilpa ever get a boyfriend'” Raj’s wife, Kavita, who had a baby daughter, Deleena, on September 9, has admitted she and her husband were experiencing problems in their three-year marriage but has now claimed that her efforts to resolve those difficulties were ruined by Shilpa.
From Shilpa’s point of view, the allegations are damaging because they appear to come from Kundra’s wife.
Asked about his relationship with Shilpa, Kundra told the News of the World: “We’re just friends. I have a business relationship with Shilpa regarding her perfume. My marriage ended twelve months ago and it has nothing to do with Shilpa.”
He called back the News of the World to say he had only been estranged from his wife for nine months.
His wife had told the paper her husband had known Shilpa from February onwards – that is almost immediately after she had left Celebrity Big Brother – but Kundra said: “We met three months ago. My wife is very insecure. I’m divorcing her on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour—that she never supported my interests or wanted to go out with me.”
Neither might appear very pressing grounds for divorce but in the Mail on Sunday, Kundra is quoted as saying: “I am the licenser of a perfume with Shilpa Shetty. We met three months ago through her agent Farhath Hussain and developed the interest in the perfume. We are just good friends.”
He added: “My wife has always tried to link me to any woman I have been associated with professionally. She is very insecure. I am divorcing her on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour – that she never supported my interests or wanted to go out with me.”
He confirmed, as his wife had alleged, that he had ended the marriage by text message and sent her clothes to her in black bin-liners.
Dale Bhagwagar, Shilpa’s publicist in Bombay, told the Mail on Sunday that she and Kundra were just friends, but added: “Shilpa is single and ready to mingle. When she gets engaged to anyone, when she has found the right man, she’ll announce it.”
There are a number of possible explanations for the two stories today. One is that Shilpa, who name was previously linked with Bollywood director, Anubhav Sinha, really is involved with a married man – Raj Kundra.
Another is that Kundra is obsessed with Shilpa and has been trying to win her by convincing her that his marriage was over when he met her and that she should not feel guilty as she is not a home wrecker. It could be she is interested in him professionally but not personally but that Raj’s wife has convinced herself that Shilpa has “stolen” her husband.
Or it could be that there is a behind-the-scenes quarrel over money and that someone who believes he should have been paid by Shilpa is seeking revenge.
What happens to Shilpa is important because she has built herself to be an ambassador for India, which is why she was invited by mayor Ken Livingstone to help launch his Indian cultural festival for the capital last week.
It is not known if Kavita was paid for her interviews.
The News of the World quoted Kavita as saying: “Shilpa’s a cultural icon in the Indian community but she’s not what she appears. She can have any man she wants — there are plenty of single men. She didn’t need to go after my husband.”
Kavita said she had received a text message from her husband last Sunday, which read: “Lots of rumours in press regarding Shilpa and me. Dad says press were standing outside house all day asking questions.”
Why a man who is accused of having an affair with Shilpa should send his wife such a text is puzzling but Kavita told the paper: “I texted back saying, ‘Is this your way of telling me'’ He just ignored the question. Since then, every time I try to find out the depth of their relationship he avoids the question. Or he laughs.”
Kavita recalled a conversation with her husband after the couple had separated: “Then on one weekend visit to see Deleena, it came out of the blue. We were having a Sunday roast pub lunch and he announced, ‘Guess what' Shilpa and her mother have been asking personal questions about me – liking me for a potential husband.’ He said it in such a proud, bragging way that I was stunned. I asked if he’d met her and he said yes. I asked him if he liked her and he said, ‘She’s pretty. She’s nice. Yes, I know her.’ That was the first time I realised Raj might be serious about Shilpa.”
Kavita went on: “Now I find it really hard and hurtful to even look at pictures of her. That’s the woman who’s got my husband, wrecked my marriage and is now living my life.’ ”
On one visit, Kavita asked her husband: “ ‘Are you seeing Shilpa' Are you going to marry her'’ But he just laughed and said, ‘Yeah, right, I don’t think she’d be interested in me.’ ”
Sadly, from Kundra’s point of view, that might well prove to be the cruel truth.
And Kavita’s premptive strike is not going to help her husband win the most sought after girl in London town.