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Saif-Kareena's Jehaad runs into trouble

George Joseph in New York | March 26, 2009 18:07 IST

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We had reported in January that Karan Johar's [Images] latest production, Jehaad, had run into trouble. Several artistes and merchants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA had come forward against Swish Films, which oversaw the production of the film. They claimed that Swish, an Australian firm, has not paid them for their work and services, to the tune of $500,000.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that several people were not paid for their work. The report said the company owed money to 500 actors, crew members and vendors. Two class action suits were also being prepared by attorneys.

Among those waiting for their money is Munish Narula, owner of Tiffin restaurant. He got a six-week contract for providing food for about 60 people involved in the shooting. But it ended two weeks later. According to the report, Mitu Bhowmick-Lange, who was involved with Swish, told him that though the food at Tiffin was great, they got another provider.

An e-mail to Bhowmick-Lange to her Australian address bounced.

Narula says he was not paid for providing food for two weeks. When negotiations failed, he filed a case in the small claims court which ruled in his favour. Nobody from Swish came to the court. Since they have no known assets in the US, Narula is not very hopeful of getting his money back.

'It's definitely hurt. Take $22,000 out of your salary and see if that makes a difference,' Brian Schuley of Closter, New Jesery, a special effects and stunts provider, said in the report.

'Because of this Dharma production, I totally changed the way I do [business] now,' said RD 'Brit' Britton, owner of Philly Picture Cars, a Bucks County auto broker for movie productions. He said that Swish owes him $43,000, including money for five cars that he bought with a credit card, which were later damaged for an explosion scene. He said he will change his business practice and will ask for credit cards and licenses in advance.

Stunts coordinator John-Eric Schuman says that Swish owes him $65,000, including wages for three employees, his salary, expenses, rental gear and gear damage. Los Angeles-based Wayne Stroud says the company owes him $21,000, leaving him unable to pay his mortgage for the first time.

Many were charged for part of their stay at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia too. Some have filed complaints against the Swish Group with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

'The crew payment[s] were and remain the full responsibility of Swish Group,' the group's managing director, Cary P Stynes, wrote in a letter to Dharma's Apoorva Mehta, dated January 22. Stynes e-mailed the Daily News last Saturday and wrote that his firm 'is endeavouring to resolve all issues to do with the shoot which it anticipates should happen shortly.'

He said the cheques were dishonoured because of a delay in transfer of funds from Australia [Images].

Bhowmick-Lange also e-mailed the newspaper that she has resigned from Swish, and that the company owes her several thousand dollars. 'My reputation, which my career is founded on, has been assassinated by these events and has caused me intense emotional distress,' she wrote.

An American crew and an Indian crew both worked on the project. Dharma paid the Indian crew directly; the American crew was supposed to be paid by Swish. Dharma says that it paid Swish more than $1 million. The Australian company has not disputed that.

There were adverse reports about Swish earlier, but they were not taken seriously. Dharma has announced that when shooting resumes in New York soon, it will employ another firm.

Jehaad is directed by Renzil D'Silva, and stars Saif Ali Khan [Images], Kareena Kapoor [Images], Vivek Oberoi [Images] and Om Puri [Images]. The film revolves around an Indian woman who marries and moves to the US. Later, she finds out that her husband is a part of a terrorist group.

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