Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Pradhan, TV Actors

Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Pradhan, TV Actors

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“Haan, better rahega kyon bataaon main aapko ye saala GST ek bamboo hai (Haan, it will be better. Why? I will tell you. This GST acts like a bamboo both for me and for you).”

Both Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Pradhan are well-known small-screen actors, who arrived with the soap opera Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, a family melodrama. Hiten has also acted in some Bollywood films such as Krishna Cottage, Vaastav and Anwar. Cobrapost team met the actor at a Varsova beach coffee shop Chai Coffee. The actor had already been briefed over phone about what would be discussed during this meeting.

As we brief the actor on our agenda and tell him how he can use his personal experiences and imagination to convey our message, the actor assures us, “Haan wo toh ek baar karne par aaynege toh bahut kuch kar sakte hain (Yes, when it comes to doing it I can do much more).” It was interesting to find him more than interested in our proposition. We will provide you the content on various good schemes launched by the NDA government such as Swach Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Parhao and rural electrification, among others, we tell him. You have to post that content on your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. But be careful it should never give rise to a perception among the public that you are doing this as a BJP spokesperson. Understanding the delicate nature of the assignment, Hiten says, “Naye hissab se tweet karna hai … normal aadmi hai support kar raha hai (I will have to tweet the content in a novel manner … [they should think] I am supporting as a normal man).” Yes, it should look like your personal view. Agrees Hiten, “Personal point of view.” This way we would be able to get political gain out of your social media messages, we say. Agreeing, Hiten says, “Correct.”

As you may have by now got it is a hidden agenda, we say, it is essential that public should never come to know what is really happening. Hiten cannot agree more, as he reveals, “Correct, public ko nahi pata hoga. hota hee aisa hai saara matlab ye bhi for example ye political party ka kind of promotion hai toh hum log product bhi uss tareh se promote karte hain (Correct. The general public will never come to know. This is what happens. I mean, this is promotion of a political party but we promote products that way only).” But you do not need to fire on all your cylinders. It has to be done in a graded manner. So, you better start posting messages on social issues, we suggest him. Agreeing, Hiten says, “Achanak se nahi … logon ko samajh mein aa jayega … ye jo log karte hain jo beech mein khurapaati log baithe hain wo uthayenge ki isko BJP se mila hai isne daala hai (No, not all of a sudden … people will take it otherwise … there are many clever people around who would pick it up and say he has got money from the BJP to do it).” 

After driving home our agenda of BJP promotion and how it has to be done, we ask Hiten if he has any doubt on it. Nah, he assures us. “Nahi, nahi, samajh mein aa gayaa clear hai aap maheene ke teen-chaar tweet (No, no. I got it, it is clear to me … you want three-four tweets a month),” says Hiten. You will have to post four-five messages on all three social media platforms, we say. “Haan, haan matlab pandrah ho gaye (Yes, yes, meaning 15 messages),” he is double quick in giving as the exact figure. But the agenda is clear to you, we ask again. Says Hiten, “Correct.” When we ask him what his expectation is, Hiten shares with us his past experience of such promotions on social media, “Nahi, nahi wo hee hai kyonki jo kiye hain wo thoda alag ho jaata hai kyonki wo karke hut gaye khatam ho gaya kahani ho gai khatm ye abhi aap bol rahe ho abhi aath maheena hai … iske baad mein jab aas-paas government BJP kee hogi unke support mein bhi rahega toh fir aisa lagega ki isne pehle kiya (No, no. The thing is whatever I have done was different because everything ended as soon as the campaign was over. Now, you are telling me this would go on for eight months … after this when the BJP government is formed I will continue supporting the BJP. People will think otherwise if I don’t).” We assure him we will continue our association for eight months. Then, there are many celebs who have agreed to work for the entire period of contract. “Correct, baraabar hai beech mein chhodne ka matlab hee nahi hai (Correct, there is no point in leaving the assignment in between),” says Hiten. 

You see it is entirely political money, we say. So we will pay the bulk of your fee in cash. Only about 20 percent will be paid in white. Well Hiten is quite happy with this arrangement, for the simply reason of GST, “Haan, better rahega kyon bataaon main aapko ye saala GST ek bamboo hai har mahine aapko bhi bamboo hai mere ko bhi bamboo hai … maine agar idhar invoice aapko raise kar diya toh mere ko uska aata hai 20 tareekh ko chalo sir ye hai aapka calculation monthly bhar do online (Haan, it will be better. Why? I will tell you. This GST acts like a bamboo both for me and for you every month … If I raise an invoice, then I am told over phone [by the CA] this is your monthly calculation and I tell him to file it online).”

After telling him that he will receive an official mail from our PR agency, we offer him a fee of Rs. 1 lakh per message per month. He does not get it. Thinking that we are offering him Rs. 1 lakh only per month for his services, Hiten asks, “Lekin for example, what is the minimum guaranty hum log kitna karenge minimum (But, for example, what is the minimum guaranty? How much I will be required to do).” Maximum 15 messages a month, we tell him. Hiten says, “Dekhiye ab hum Facebook, Twitter aur Instagram teenon pakad rahe hain aap one mein teenon bol rahe hain (You see, I am taking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all three, whereas you are quoting price for only one [lakh rupees]).” No, we are offering you Rs. 1 lakh per message on each of the three platforms, we correct him.

When he realizes what the real offer is, a satisfied Hiten finally says, “Theek hai toh agar hum log minimum 15 ka hota hai toh it’s fine matlab per month 15 lakh minimum hota hai then it works fine (That is fine. If I am paid Rs. 15 lakh, it is fine. I mean if it is minimum Rs. 15 lakh per month, then it works fine).” Telling us that he would have to show this white income of Rs. 3 lakh, the actor says, “Mere ko minimum agar 15 kee milta hai toh mere ko koi problem nahi hai (I am going to receive a minimum Rs. 15 lakh in payment, then I have no problem).” We finally tell him if he is really interested in the deal, we will send him an official mail that very evening. Hiten nods gleefully, as our interview with the actor comes to an end. 

When we spoke to Hiten over phone again, the actor suggested us to rope in his spouse Gauri Pradhan. Hiten has 1.28 lakh followers on Twitter, more than 73,000 on Facebook and 5.42 lakh on Instagram, while Gauri has more than 32,000 followers on Twitter. That is good stats to measure their popularity. Therefore, we met the couple at the same rendezvous.

It is obvious Gauri knows well the purpose of the meeting. Telling Gauri that she will have to take up women centric issues on social media to support the government, we clearly state our objective: promote the BJP but in a different way. “Matlab directly nahi indirectly (You mean not directly but indirectly).” You got it right, she is told. “Wo toh samajh gai. Content aap denge yaa humara (I got it. Will you provide the content or we will)?” Gauri asks. We would provide you the content on the issues at hand, we tell her. You just have to put it across your followers in a creative manner. The point is if we say the BJP is a good party people would not take it seriously, but they would sit up and listen when a celebrity like you would say that. Although she agrees to play ball, Gauri does not have any idea of a much-touted scheme like Ujjwala and she is tutored by Cobrapost team on how she should write about it.

We tell the couple that they would receive an official mail from our PR agency, describing about the meeting they had with us. If they are willing to take up the assignment, they would have to revert to the agency with their PAN and bank account details. The couple would be paid Rs. 27 lakh, Rs. 15 lakh to Hiten and Rs. 12 lakh to his spouse, for five contents a month each. The couple has no problem if they are paid 80 percent in cash. So, when we say if it was clear to her they would be paid only 20 percent in white and the rest in cash, Gauri confirms as much, “Bataya mujhe (Yes, he has told me).”

The couple is planning a trip to the US and is thus desperate to clinch the deal. His eagerness to start is palpable when Hiten says, “Abhi humein jisko final karna hai jaise aap bol rahe ho na aap mujhe kuch de do main daal doon taaki meri shuruaat ho jaaye. Aapko lagega jo study kar raha hai unhein bhi lagega isne shuruaat kar dee aur hum log ismein se chhod toh sakte nahi mera bas itna hai ki hum log jaa rahe hain toh humara usase pehle close ho jaaye (Right now we have to finalize that thing. You can give some content so I can post that to make a start. You and the person who is going to study will also take it that I have started it. And we are not going to forego it. The only thing is I want to close the deal before we leave).” Assuring the couple that they would soon receive the contract, we remind them that they have to write positive things about the BJP government. Yes, they would act more than positive. “Haan haan humein positive kyonki hum log pro-BJP ho gaye ye yaad rakhna kabhi anti bolna mat interview mein mat (Yes, yes. We have to keep it in mind that since we are pro-BJP, we should not take an anti-BJP stance in interviews as well),” reassures Hiten, while Gauri nods in agreement.

Hiten was prompt to respond to our mail and sent us his PAN and banking details. But when the contract did not materialize, he kept on asking us on WhatsApp when it was going to “happen”. In the meanwhile, to show he is raring to go, Hiten tweeted on July 4, 2018 for us praising the Union government’s unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir during the holy month of Ramazan. His tweet is self evident.

We had e-mailed a questionnaire to all these celebs to know what they would like to say on what we have revealed in our story. Click here to read the answers.

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