It was March, 1993, and I was in what was then Bombay to do a story for a German magazine on the rich and famous of what later was named Maximum City.
I met and spoke with showbiz people, fashion models, czars of the advertising world, and socialites who were the toast of the town. But I felt that something – or, rather, someone – was missing, an essential piece of the jigsaw puzzle of the story that was slowly forming in my mind.
Bombay, the financial capital of the country, was all about money, with a capital M. And who a more perfect personification of Mega Money than the Don of Dalal Street, Harshad Mehta, who a year ago had pulled off what many said was the biggest scam and some said was the biggest coup ever witnessed by the stock market?
Harshad Mehta was easy to contact and more than agreeable to be interviewed. Bunny was accompanying me on the trip, and we took a taxi to Worli where the Big Bull lived.
Watched by a safari-suited bodyguard who was almost as broad as he was tall, we walked on the lawn and chatted. The market manipulator obviously liked being in the celebrity spotlight and talked freely.
No, he didn’t see himself as a lawbreaker. Indeed, a lot of people saw him as a hero. The other evening, he’d gone to the movies in his famous Lexus – the only one in India, at the time – and he’d been mobbed by people wanting his autograph, as though he were a famous movie star, or cricketer. To the common man, who could only dream of riches, he was a modern-day Midas.
Interview over, the Big Bull graciously asked if he could do anything for us. Yes, you can, said Bunny. We’d like to ride in your Lexus. So, accompanied by the large bodyguard, we were chauffeured to the TOI office in the famed Lexus, much to the goggle-eyed amazement of the security guards at the entrance.
Many say Harshad Mehta took people for a ride. Bunny and I can say that we, quite literally, took him for a ride.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.