Former liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s son Siddharth Mallya, appearing in the Netflix docuseries Bad Boy Billionaires has said that his father is a “political pawn” as “they (the government) need a man to make an example of”.
Mallya has spoken for the first time since the bank fraud worth Rs 9,000 crore involving his father came to light.
The controversial docuseries was released on Monday morning with three episodes on Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Sahara India chief Subrata Roy after a month-long legal battle. However, the fourth episode on the founder of Saytam Computer Services founder B Ramalinga Raju has not been released by the over-the-top (OTT) platform as a Hyderabad court had ordered a stay on its release. Netflix’s plea challenging the Hyderabad court’s decision is still pending.
Mallya said in the docuseries “They are saying he didn’t pay his employees, he looted the banks, he fled from the authorities, he money laundered, he siphoned funds…it’s political and they need a scapegoat. They need a political pawn; they need a man to make an example of.”
Mallya, who is an actor, added that his father was an easy target because of his lifestyle.
“Everyone wants scandal, everyone wants a bit of spice, everyone wants a bit of controversy. You know, he was in a sexy business, making alcohol. It’s not like he was, you know, making steel somewhere or something, it’s a lifestyle brand. Therefore, it’s much easier to target him,” said Mallya.
He added that his father revolutionised air travel in India and genuinely tried to save the airline.
On his father’s lavish parties, Mallya said, “He (Vijay Mallya) was one of the first people in India who wasn’t afraid of spending his money.”
“He was unapologetic (about it),” Mallya added.
Vijay Mallya had fled to London in March 2016 and is facing extradition to India. Indian agencies have already won the case in the UK courts but Mallya is learnt to have applied for asylum, which is pending with British authorities.
Canadian Indian filmmaker Dylan Mohan Gray, who has directed the opening episode on Vijay Mallya, told Hindustan Times, “I am very happy that the series has finally been released. These films are very important in many ways—both in terms of showing the legal aspect and the fact that Indians will see powerful figures whose stories can be told without them having control over it. I think it’s a very important landmark for freedom of expression in India and all kind of filmmaking in India.”
Gray said the film on Vijay Mallya has been made using accounts of people who have had some connection with his life. “There was no preconceived agenda in the film and we have been able to produce an authoritative account on Mallya’s life. I think people will appreciate the film”.
Netflix officially refused to comment on the release of film.
Bad Boy Billionaires was set to be released originally on September 2 but it hit a legal hurdle with Mehul Choksi, whose name appears in the series; Roy and Raju approached courts seeking stay on the docuseries saying it would affect their trial.
A lower court in Araria, Bihar had asked Netflix not to use the name of Subrata Roy, which was challenged by Netflix. Roy had argued that series was an attempt to tarnish his image.
Choksi, currently living in Antigua and Barbuda, had approached the Delhi high court through advocate Vijay Aggarwal saying his reputation would suffer great injustice should the series be allowed to stream with references to him and the legal cases pending against him.
The Delhi high court had dismissed Choksi’s plea while asking the Centre to regulate digital content.
Netflix had rigorously defended the allegations saying the government does not regulate content on OTT. The company also relied on the laws of freedom of speech and expression to argue that the series is like a documentary referring to facts which are widely discussed in the public domain even otherwise and aren’t sub-judice in these circumstances.
The Centre had also refused to intervene in the matter saying it does not regulate content on OTT platforms.