The arrest of Indian-origin couple Kishan Modugumudi and his wife Chandra has opened up a can of worms. The duo is said to have been running a prostitution racket in Chicago, Illinois, and lured several young actresses into the business.
While the duo was arrested in Washington on April 28 and the federal agents of Homeland Security Investigations filed a 42-page criminal complaint against them, more details are now trickling in. As per the latest development, the investigation has thrown up the name of two top actresses in the south film industry.
Five victims have been named in the complaint, and the two actresses reportedly are from Bengaluru and Chennai. Sources in Tollywood said that these two actresses often appeared in the videos of the Telugu Association conferences in the US and one of them was even heard thanking Modugumudi for his help, reported the Times of India.
Now that the news of the racket is out, the Movie Artists Association is set to hold a meeting on June 24 and discuss the matter. The association's president Shivaji Raja also spoke to TOI and said that actresses are often told not to go to the US for such events.
"We are aware of Kishan Modugumudi's suspicious activities. He worked as a production manager and co-produced at least two films. Few years ago, when I was vice-president, we noticed suspicious activity," Raja told the daily.
"Usually, artists are not aware of the visa type issued to them for attending conferences in United States, Dubai, Singapore or Australia. We are requesting artists to inform MAA about performance schedules and attendance at events abroad so that we can talk to organisers or associations and verify credentials."
Meanwhile, this is not the first time that Modugumudi's name has come up for the suspicious activity or his behaviour. Actors Anasuya and Sampoornesh Babu had in 2016 criticised him for misbehaving with them when he extended an invite for a Telugu conference in US.
Anasuya also spoke to TOI and said that he had invited her to an event in 2016 and spoke about "making a commitment."
"In 2016, Sreeraj contacted me from his American number, asking me to attend a Telugu association event. I was uncomfortable with the way he spoke. He was talking about making a commitment. I refused to attend the event. Despite my refusal, he put my picture on poster. I tweeted saying, I have nothing to with the event," she said.
Tollywood is reeling under Sri Reddy's revelations of how casting couch is prevalent in the industry and the sex racket has come as another shock. In fact, Reddy herself has now said that she too was approached by the couple. "Usually when artists fail to get offers, they go to the US and are lured into prostitution. Artists are paid over $1,000, depending on their popularity," she said.
How The Racket Functioned
The couple reportedly lured young actresses from Tollywood to the US on the pretext of events but instead advertised them for sex work across the country. The duo then booked air tickets for these actresses and housed them in hotels and dingy apartments and reportedly charged their clients about $3,000 for each actress.
"The accused would take the victims to Telugu and other Indian conferences held across the US to identify potential customers who would pay them to engage in commercial sex," TOI quoted the complaint.
The couple even kept a detailed account of all the clients and victims and Chandra reportedly also made note of the sexual acts performed by each actor and the exact amount of money paid and received.
If that wasn't enough, the couple also threatened the victims and warned them against approaching the police. Modugumudi told one of the victims that "it would be nothing for him to harm her if she talked to the police about him because she is small and unknown, not a big actress," the complaint said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "(He) further stated he had a copy of her passport with her family's name and address in it."