Mumbai: Raj Kundra’s story is the stuff of fairytales. His father was a Punjabi émigré from Ludhiana, who worked as a bus conductor in London before becoming a small businessman. His mother worked as a shop assistant. Raj himself didn’t study beyond 12th grade. By his own account, he is a 'college dropout' who embarked upon a journey of discovery to Dubai and Nepal in the early 1990s.
In Nepal, Kundra claims on his website, he discovered the Pashmina shawl. He went back to the UK with some of these. Soon, he was selling them to big chains in Britain. That’s where he claims he made his money. From there, it was on to trading in diamonds, and then a host of businesses that took him to Antwerp in Belgium, the diamond capital of the world, and to Russia.
At present, he is associated with Groupco Developers, a real estate firm that operates in eight Indian cities, Ashwini Steel, which makes mild steel from scrap, TMT Global, which claims to predict stock prices, Essential Sports and Media which is into production and distribution apart from sports, and Iconic Investments, which claims to be a private fund trading in equity markets. There are a few other ventures, too, such as Gold Gate Trading, which describes itself as a trade and investment firm based in Dubai.
The websites for each of these ventures is registered to a man who calls himself Urvish, from Malad in Mumbai. The address and phone number given are fake. Several of the businesses appear to overlap. For example, Rajasthan Royals and the Super Fight League are into sports, same as Essential Sports and Media. Gold Gate, TMT and Iconic Investments are all involved in stocks and trading.
The physical address for Iconic Investments Pvt Ltd is the same as the one for Groupco Developers and other Kundra firms. The guard at the given address in Bandra in Mumbai did not know if the offices existed at that address and prevented the Deccan Chronicle reporter from entering.
Kundra’s production house has not yet made any film or television serials. The achievements of his other ventures apart from the Rajasthan Royals and the Super Fight League, which he promoted with actor Sanjay Dutt, are unclear. There is no doubt that Kundra is a wealthy man.
Apart from his stake in Rajasthan Royals, he owns property in Burj Khalifa in Dubai and bungalows in London and Mumbai. His Mumbai bungalow, where he has been living for about three years, faces the sea and is near filmstar Amitabh Bachchan’s house.
Suzanne Roshan reportedly did the interiors, though Kundra himself now owns an interior décor firm, Kundra and Kundra, too. He has a taste for fast cars and owns a Lamborghini among others.
His appearances at premieres of films and other such events would usually be in such a car, from which he and his wife Shilpa Shetty would step out. Kundra, a tall, sturdy man of around six feet, favours jeans and black shirts or blazers on such occasions.
Raj Kundra counted Vindoo Dara Singh among his good friends in Mumbai. He was present at Vindoo’s house the day his father Dara Singh passed away. His other friends include Sakshi and M.S. Dhoni.
His marriage to Shilpa was, famously, his second. He divorced his first wife Kavita, who lives in London with their child. One of the conditions of his divorce settlement was a privacy pact that prevents her from speaking to the media.