BPNX3B RANI MUKHERJEE & SHAHRUKH KHAN PAHELI (2005)
Shah Rukh Khan, right, known as the 'King of Bollywood' © AF Archive/Alamy

Some of India’s top movie stars, including the “King of Bollywood” Shah Rukh Khan, face being dragged into a High Court lawsuit that is heading for trial in London.

A member of the Bahraini royal family is being sued by an Egyptian businessman who claims he is owed $42.5m after arranging for the royal to meet some of Bollywood’s top stars.

Ahmed Adel Abdullah Ahmed alleges that he and his company CBSC Events & Exhibition and Conference Organisers, were hired by Sheikh Hamad Isa Ali Al Khalifa, a distant cousin of the king of Bahrain, to arrange meetings with film stars for up to 25 minutes for the sum of $1.5m per meeting, with a $500,000 bonus for every third meeting arranged.

Mr Ahmed alleges that Sheikh Khalifa, a Bollywood fan, gave him a list of 26 film stars he would like to meet, and the two men struck a verbal agreement, according to a claim filed at the High Court.

Mr Ahmed says Sheikh Khalifa then met Shah Rukh Khan at the St Regis Hotel in Mumbai in January 2016. Mr Khan, who is famous for such films as Darr and Anjaam, was recently listed as 65th in the top 100 of Forbes magazine’s 2017 list of the world’s highest-paid entertainers.

Another meeting was arranged for Sheikh Khalifa with actor Salman Khan at the Mumbai St Regis, according to the claim, as well as a meeting with Adiyta Roy Kapoor at the Mina Al-Salam hotel in Dubai and two meetings with Ranveer Singh in the same Dubai hotel.

The Bahraini royal also cancelled pre-arranged meetings with Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan, according to the claim.

It is alleged that after attending five meetings with the four stars in Mumbai and Dubai, which triggered payments of upwards of $3m, Sheikh Ali Khalifa breached the agreement by refusing to pay more and finding another person to introduce him to 13 additional Bollywood film stars.

It is also claimed that Sheikh Khalifa agreed to pay for Mr Ahmed’s company to sponsor a film festival in Dubai in 2016 for $500,000, but the Bahraini royal failed to pay the promised price.

The claim alleges that Sheikh Khalifa attended the festival and met a number of Indian actors but, on a night when he was supposed to hand out an award, he left early and asked Mr Ahmed to drive him to the airport.

The Bahraini royal, whose grandfather was one of four brothers to the former king of Bahrain, is fighting the claim and has filed a defence to the lawsuit in London’s High Court.

Sheikh Khalifa said in his defence that he had a “keen interest” in Bollywood films and was introduced to Mr Ahmed by his uncle.

The Sheikh claims that Mr Ahmed arranged five meetings for him with four different Bollywood stars, and says he paid $3.4m for the meetings.

However, he denies entering into any legally binding agreement and says he told Mr Ahmed in April 2016 that he did not want to arrange any further meetings. He also denies agreeing to pay for the film festival sponsorship, and denies there was a list of Bollywood stars he wanted to meet.

The Bahraini royal says Mr Ahmed “was forcibly trying to impose meetings on the defendant by fixing dates without the defendant’s agreement or instructions” and says there was no “valid and binding agreement” between the two men.

His lawyers have also asked Mr Ahmed to disclose the amount of money paid, if any, to the Bollywood actors for the meetings.

Sheikh Khalifa tried and failed earlier this year to challenge the location of the upcoming trial. However, a High Court judge ruled that London was a more suitable place for a trial than Bahrain.

In a pre-trial ruling in May, Jeremy Cooke, sitting as a High Court judge, said Mr Ahmed did business in London and Dubai and there appeared to be “little inconvenience” for either party in the case to attend a trial in the UK capital. He said any witnesses, including Bollywood stars and their agents, could come to the Britain.

No date has been set for the case to be heard.

Get alerts on Asia-Pacific when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article