The Telangana High Court has stayed the proceedings of a recent complaint filed against filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, after an individual from a production house claimed that the filmmaker cheated him of Rs 56 lakh.
The Miyapur Police Station of Hyderabad had registered a case against Varma, under sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 417 (punishment for cheating), 420 (cheating), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The complaint was raised by Koppada Sekhar Raju, a proprietor of Sekhara Art Creations. In his petition, he has stated that initially, he had first lent Rs 8 lakh to Varma, and later on, Rs 20 lakh back in 2020. After that, while Varma was making his film Disha Encounter, the filmmaker had persuaded Raju to invest an additional amount of Rs 28 lakh, and had also said that he would be credited as a co-producer for the film. In total, Varma borrowed Rs 56 lakh, and an agreement was set that the money was to be returned to the petitioner, once Disha Encounter was released. Subsequently, Raju claimed that Varma has not returned his money as yet, and said that the director had “threatened” him over a phone call. After he approached the Court, a case was filed against Varma.
However, as per the latest court hearing, Varma’s counsel DV Sitharam Murthy contended that it was Raju who had approached the filmmaker in 2019, with an intention to produce Disha Encounter and had requested Varma to direct it. Subsequently, in January 2020, Raju had loaned Rs 8 lakh to Varma, following which the director began shooting the film. Raju went on to lend Rs 56 lakh in total on three separate occasions between January and February 2020.
While Raju found it a financial constraint to raise further funds, which led to the halt of the film’s shoot, Varma in “good faith” had agreed to return the money, if someone else could produce and release the film. Later, Anuraag Kancherla stepped in as the producer, while Raju was credited as an associate producer in the film’s promotions.
Raju also alleged that Varma took interest-free, hand loans from him to back the film and claimed that he was under the assumption that Varma was producing the film, until January 2021.
The court, after listening to both sides, observed discrepancies in Raju’s argument and stayed all further proceedings against Varma, regarding the complaint.
The matter has been posted to June 17 for the next hearing.
Meanwhile, Varma has lodged a complaint with Panjagutta police station against producers Narti Karuna and Natti Kranthi, claiming that the duo has forged his signature on financial documents, with which they have filed a civil suit, seeking an injunction on the release of Varma’s film Khatra. The complaint has been sent in for the police’s legal opinion.