Venky Kudumula, the Telugu filmmaker who last helmed the 2020 Telugu action-comedy film Bheeshma, was duped to the tune of Rs 63,600, the filmmaker said in a statement on Thursday.
The filmmaker said that he had received a call from an individual named Naveen, who said that he got the director’s number from a mutual friend.
“He loved my film Bheeshma and wanted me to apply for a National Award because it dealt with organic farming. As there was nothing wrong in applying for it, I went ahead. I got in touch with the mutual friend, who told me he has known Naveen for two years. I went ahead and asked my associate director to submit the required documents,” the statement read.
Kudumula paid Rs 63,600 as an application fee, as per the statement.
Naveen said that there was a “mix-up” and told Kudumula that the money would be refunded, the filmmaker said. Naveen later asked for the money to be transferred again.
Kudumula later found out that the bank account belonged to an individual instead of a film corporation, as it was supposed to be. On contacting the mutual friend, he found out that his friend hadn’t met Naveen but had only exchanged “back and forth messages” over the past two years.
“These fraudsters can come to us from any direction, pretending to be someone they’re not or using a connection that isn’t even real. Many friends suggested I should not file a complaint just to make sure that the fraudsters don’t repeat this with anyone else from our industry or anyone outside as well,” the statement said.
Kudumula said that he “maybe was an easy bait” and raised his voice so that it does not happen to others.
While Kudumula’s action to raise a complaint was welcomed by many on social media, the director was also trolled for getting conned easily, with one person asking if his film was worth being selected for the award.
Besides Bheeshma, Kudumula has also directed the 2018 Telugu romantic comedy Chalo featuring Naga Shaurya and Rashmika Mandanna.