FROM CAMEOS TO CRIME
Starlet accused of Rs 20 crore fraud is picked up from a posh Delhi farmhouse, laying bare a sordid history of cheating
Lin in eena Maria Paul graduated quickly from roaming around in a Maruti 800 begging for bit roles in movies to having a Rolls- Royce Phantom parked in the driveway of her Rs 4- lakh- a- month, plush South Delhi farmhouse. But the 25- year- old starlet’s dream run was cut abruptly on May 28 when a joint team of Delhi and Chennai police came knocking even as her conman beau fled in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
The actor, who claims she was born in Thrissur, Kerala, and grew up in Dubai, was arrested for forgery, impersonation and cheating in Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the tune of Rs 20 crore, charges she shares with her live- in partner Balaji aka Shankar Reddy aka Chandrasekhar.
It took Chennai police several days of tracking their cellphones until they finally swooped down on the Delhi farmhouse. Nine luxury cars were stretched out on the driveway, including the Phantom, an Audi, a BMW and a Range Rover, and 81 luxury wristwatches stashed inside the home. The police suspect Balaji had stolen at least some of these for his partner of two years who will soon be seen playing an LTTE militant in Shoojit Sircar’s yet- to- be- released political thriller Madras Café with John Abraham in the lead.
Leena has acted in a few Malayalam movies, among them the Mohanlal- starrer Red Chillies helmed by Shaji Kailas, in which she was one of the girls in a music band, and the Mammoottystarrer Cobra directed by Lal in which she appeared in a couple of scenes. She had a role in Saji Surendran’s Husbands in Goa as well. Now though, no one in southern moviedom claims to know or even remember her. Her partner’s identity remains a mystery.
Leena’s troubles began after Skylark Textiles and Outfitters, a Chennai textiles firm, complained to the police that the starlet and her partner had defrauded it of Rs 74 lakh.
“They took the money at a posh office in Mumbai they claimed to be their own,’’ says an officer with Chennai police crime branch. The company was
( LEFT) LEENA MARIA PAUL; THE DRIVEWAYOFTHE FARMHOUSE IN DELHI FROM WHERE SHE WAS PICKED UP