Author: T N Raghunatha & Apurv Pandit
The entire nation is agog about what Tarannum, the infamous bar dancer in custody for alleged links with cricket's underbelly, is all about. Though her circle of night charm was quite up-market and she had many 'friends' in Bollywood, international cricket and also the underworld, not many seem to have seen Tarannum in person. Today, as she appears before the public always clad in a shuttle-cock black burqa, T N Raghunatha & Apurv Pandit tell you how much of a toast this crorepati bar girl was
Type Tarannum+bar girl on Google and 21000 hits come up instantly. That may be routine for most searches, even a slim count by general standards, but what is rather amusing and surprising is the constant pop-ups of global gambling and betting sites that have powered their publicity on this Mumbai bar girl who has been in news for her money, liaisons and betting penchant.
Be it 888.com or freelotto or even sites telling you how to make a fast buck by currency conversions, Tarannum's betting habits have, indeed, spread far and wide.
As for Tarannum, she is one bar girl no one in Mumbai seems to have seen before. Her religion and the resultant burqa she dons ever since her nasty brush with law for alleged match-fixing, betting and underworld links, seems quite at odds with her bare-all-dare-all profession and her famous circle of charm which extended from Bollywood clients to international cricketers to even D-Company.
Not many have aroused as much curiosity as the much-discussed crorepati bar girl Tarannum Khan alias Tannu ever since the Income Tax department raided her bungalow Tanishq at Versova in north-west Mumbai on August 29 and seized cash and jewellery worth Rs 32 lakh. She may have claimed she is just another of those thousands of bar dancers who earned a living through genuine means, but she is not just anyone.
Such is the juice surrounding her connections with celebrities like Sri Lankan spinner Muralitharan and Bollywood actor Aditya Panscholi, not to mention the dapper son of a prominent Maharashtra politician that Mumbaikars have long stopped reading stories about the plight of 75,000-odd bar girls - who were rendered jobless after the recent closure of dance bars in Maharashtra. The raid and the subsequent arrest on Tarannum by Crime Branch on September 16 have erased whatever sympathy Maharashtrians may have had for these jobless bar girls.
In the Esplanade court where the lady appeared for her first hearing recently, it was a full house with curiosity levels peaking like the Mumbai rains. But all through the 40 minutes that the bar dancer was in court, she remained firmly under her burqa - and continued to remain so at every public appearance - except for a few all-to-brief seconds.
Thanks to the humidity in the courtroom, Tarannum lifted her veil twice in 10 minutes. In those few seconds, people caught a glimpse of her face. Eyewitnesses said, she has a round face, expressive black eyes, but a flat nose. Her peach complexion and smooth skin do much to enhance her otherwise plain Jane features.
Such are the animated discussions about what Tarannum looks like that some mischievous elements on the net had a field's day uploading the photographic portfolio of another girl by the same name, wowing the email community about her looks. The south Indian actress whose photographs they actually were, was swift in protesting. The lone photograph of the bar girl being carried in Mid Day has neither been authenticated by Tarannum nor any of her acquaintances, leaving the question mark hanging in the air as cunningly as a delivery by Muralitharan himself.
Meanwhile, all her celebrity clients, particularly Panscholi and Muralitharan have denied any links with her and vice versa. Panscholi though has admitted to have taken Murali to Deepa Bar where Tarannum was the lead night dancer.
Tarannum, however, has a syrupy past and that includes her incriminating private mujra at a five star hotel in Dubai for none other than Dawood Ibrahim himself. Sleuths say one of her initial confessions was about this occasion where she was flown to Dubai business class.
From spending her childhood in a one-room tenement at Transit Camp No 3 of Prateeksha Nagar at Sion (East) in north-central Mumbai to owning Tanishq worth Rs 1.5 crore at Versova and a flat in Kamadhenu apartments at the fashionable Lokhandvala complex (read box), Tarannum has come a long way. In the aftermath of the 1992-93 communal riots in Mumbai, Tarannum and her parents shifted base to a chawl at Adarsh Nagar, Andheri.
It was at this juncture that a jobless diploma holder in advanced computer education, Tarannum chose to do something different to earn her livelihood.
Forced by penury, the attractive teenager took up a bar dancer's job at the Home Palace Ladies Bar at Kandivli, a northern suburb of Mumbai, in 1994. Before long, her lifestyle changed and her circle of charm spread news about her beauty and ways far and wide.
Customers are said to have showered her cash amounting to thousands in one night. It was during her stint with the Home Palace bar that she visited Dubai.
Sleuths say that Tarannum had begun to hobnob with people with questionable credentials at the Home Palace bar itself.
From earning anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 a day to raking up as much as Rs 10,000 a night, Tarannum became a most sought after bar dancer after she joined Deepa Bar at Vile Parle in north-west Mumbai in 2000.
Frequented by rich customers who splurged on favourite bar girls, Deepa Bar helped Tarannum accumulate her wealth. "She was the richest among all my bar dancers," says Deepa Bar owner Sudhakar Shetty. That she led a colourful life is evidenced in her admission to the police that she was going steady with at least four wealthy customers and one of the partners of Deepa Bar, Humayun Chandiwala. It was through the earnings that she made at Deepa Bar that Tarannum bought her Versova flat.
Her first tryst with rich and famous cricketers, bookies and Bollywood stars happened at Deepa Bar. She admits to betting and also to the fact that she knew film producer-cum-bookie Jagdish Sodha who had allegedly paid Rs 8 lakh to a Sri Lankan spinner to fix 2004 ICC matches played in England, a country she has visited.
It was a tip-off given by the International Cricket Council that a large chunk of money had been transferred through hawala from Sri Lanka and the involvement of a bar dancer and a leading bookie which led to the IT raid on Tarannum's residence which resulted in the seizure of Rs 22 lakh in cash and Rs 10 lakh worth jewellery. Tarannum's dairy, in which she has made several incriminating notes, and her mobile phone opened up the Pandora's box.
That Tarannum had huge stakes in the betting racket came to light in startling revelations made by the police seeking remand of the "crorepati" bar dancer and two leading bookies Milind Dhiraj Nandy alias Dhiraj Jogeshwari (DJ) and Pradeep Kuvarji Parmar.
Among other things, the remand application states that Tarannum used her mobile number 98200-97742 for placing bets with DJ and that she had placed bets on the recent Ashes series in which England scored a victory over Australia. It also says that Tarannum and DJ travelled outside India on several occasions and that the police needed to probe if they had provided any security related secret information to international terrorist organisations. Mumbai Crime Branch sleuths are, meanwhile, interrogating Tarannum and two bookies to probe if they have any links with global betting syndicates, and Dubai and Karachi-based underworld organisations involved in match-fixing.