She is in the eye of a storm for being an accomplice in two murders in Oshiwara, in suburban Mumbai. She’s a Page 3 regular who has the likes of Raja Dhody, Parvez Damania and Jammy Jamval greeting her on her birthday. She’s also an IPL party gal who’s said to be the honey trap for shadowy match-fixing types. So who exactly is Simrin Sood?
The precursor to her introduction to the Page 1 of national dailies starts with a Hitchcockian twang – or rather straight out of Brian de Palma’s Body Double: Arun Tiku, a 67-year-old man, was found banging the glass window of his first floor apartment in Oshiwara, begging someone to save his life.
A neighbour, whilst parking his car into the building, noticed a man in distress and ran up with the security guard to the flat. The flat was opened by two gangsters, with blood on their feet, claiming that Mr Tiku was merely tired and resting. The security guard locked them and rushed down to call the police.
By the time the police arrived Mr Tiku was dead, stabbed in the chest and torso several times. His son, Anuj Tiku, whom Simrin was ‘dating’, was nowhere to be found for the next two days, a missing link that still makes him a suspect in this case.
Simrin had recently begun dating Anuj, a character artiste who had scored bit roles in some films, including a YRF production, ironically titled Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Simrin had been introduced to Tiku by Vijay Palande.
Also read: Violent deaths in Bollywood
In 1998, Vijay Palande had been charged with the double murders of Air India engineer Anup Das and his father Swaraj Ranjan Das. Palande had been convicted and was serving life imprisonment for these murders; the cops merely charged Simrin with illegally occupying Das’s flat. In 2002, he jumped parole and went missing. He underwent surgery to evade identification, transforming his face in an oriental mould, with slit eyes and high cheekbones.
By now, Simrin had already made a stab at Bollywood stardom with Anokha Anubhav, a B-grade flick about lesbianism, directed by a director named Sandeep Kumar. Sandeep Kumar’s last feature film to hit theatres in Mumbai was in 2008, a soft-porn flick titled Parveen Bobby, ostensibly to cash in on the star-crossed innings of ’70s siren Parveen Babi, who died from complications of diabetes for she was so paranoid by the end of her innings in Bollywood that the only two foods she believed were not contaminated by Mr. Bachchan, Prince Charles, FBI and RAW were Diet Coke and eggs.
Coming back to Simrin, Anokha Anubhav did not work; it is available for as little as Rs 30 as a VCD on the internet. She and Vijay Palande changed their names again and rented a flat in Andheri West for a short while. When the police came chasing after Palande, they fled again, even though in their rush to escape they left behind a plastic bag containing unsigned cheque books under their many different monikers.
At different times in her checkered innings with the law, Simrin has been Palande’s niece, girlfriend or sister, depending on what version suited them best. Now, in a police lock-up in Oshiwara, the police are yet to confirm who she really is, leave alone what she is to Vijay Palande.
Flashforward to 2010, Shining India has announced its third season of IPL, a strange format of cricket for a nation obsessed with cricket, for there is no national pride suddenly in winning a match. Players could come from any nation and form a club. These clubs then play against each other across the country with a bevy of American-style cheerleaders doing a shimmy at the edge of a stadium. Bollywood stars, beer barons, industrialists, socialites, and fashionistas all join the jamboree in this orgy of money laundering, for who is funding these teams becomes the subject of a massive scandal in 2010.
At the end of every match, there would be a fashion show to celebrate the day’s hard work. The lucrative contract for these fashion shows, including the ‘after-party’ at various five-stars across the nation, had been bagged by Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jessia, a couple known for its ability to conjure a rocking night within minutes for their close friends in tinsel town. There seemed nothing so wrong in extending this skill into a more professional realm, such as the IPL.
So, cricketers, industrialists, Bollywooders, divas, and lots of variants of a species called ‘model’ could be seen floating around in the din of a discotheque, ultra-violet and neon green lighting giving many faces the crepuscular malice of vampires on the prowl. One such vampire was feline-featured ‘model’ Simrin Sood, though which campaigns she had done to be tagged as a model remains a deeper mystery than her links to the criminal world via Vijay Palande.
Simrin Sood had been placed here at the behest of Vijay Palande, who was also a seasoned player in another sub-sport that continues to taint the world of cricket: match-fixing. She was what the media terms a ‘honey trap’ to facilitate deals between bookies and a certain politician whose name the police is yet to reveal. The police is loath to confirming any confessions coming from this duo, for both Palande and Simrin Sood also suffer from a condition that has taken them far in the world of glamourous criminality: pseudologia fantastica or, in lay terms, the pathological habit of lying.
However, with the IPL season behind her, Simrin Sood did indeed become a regular on the freebie party circuit, a genre of social respectability that many strugglers yearn. And with good reason: a voyeuristic survey of her Facebook account reveals the social web of Simrin Sood. It is studded with no lesser names than Raja Dhody, socialite and ex-husband of society diva Queenie Singh; Jammy Jamval, head honcho of the Taj group of hotels; Parvez Damania, an industrialist who, like Vijay Mallya, once even owned an airline. All of the above greeted Simrin Sood warmly on her birthday by posted on her ‘wall’.
The police are at present also interrogating stock broker Gautam Vora. In 2010, Gautam Vora came under the glare of media scrutiny for having been Viveka Babajee’s boyfriend. The former-model-turned event organizer (she too must have wanted to have a robust fashion choreography contract like Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jessia), tired of struggling to keep her business afloat and suffering from a break-up, hanged herself in her Bandra flat. The police found a note from her handwritten diary that read, “Gautam Vora, you killed me.” Though Gautam Vora vehemently denied being Viveka Babajee’s boyfriend, a tabloid a few days later released photographs filched from one of Vora’s social networking websites.
Vora might be twice unlucky in love, but his dating pattern reveals a fetish that businessmen with lots of cash harbour. It is a kink that that gives people like Vijay Palande and Simrin Sood a hook for conning gullible victims. Both Anuj Tiku and aspiring Bollywood producer, Karankumar Kakkad, whose hacked remains were archaeologized by the police and a team of trekkers off the jungles of Chiplun, were rich kids with posh flats and lots of disposable income. Both were taken in by Simrin Sood’s glamour.
To them, Vijay Palande was a friend or a brother (just as he was an uncle to victims from their earlier exploits in 1998). Kakkad lived in Oberoi Springs, the poshest building in Lokhandwala, in suburban Mumbai. He had the bad luck of being Simrin Sood’s next-door neighbour, which she was renting at Rs 50,000 a month.
When Kakkad discovered that Simrin Sood was dating Anuj Tiku, he threatened to reveal the truth to Tiku; that Simrin and he were in a romance. So Palande and his two cronies (who by now had moved into Tiku’s flat as paying guests) spiked his drink, took him to his house in an inebriated state, hacked him, dumped his remains into Kakkad’s shiny BMW and drove seven hours south of Mumbai to the forests of Chiplun to dump his body. On inspecting the skull, Kakkad’s brother has expressed doubts if the skull is indeed his brother’s.
A month ago, sometime in March, around the time that Kakkad went missing, Simrin wrote on her FB, a great place to show off to your peers, that she was heading to Bangkok. Kakkad’s credit cards had been swiped in Thailand after he went missing.
Anuj Tiku, for his part, had three flats converted into one. So when his Delhi-based father, Arun Tiku, began having misgivings about his son letting in strangers into the house as paying guests, he flew down to Mumbai -- only to be stabbed to death, minutes after banging on his window, screaming for help.
Anuj Tiku, who is still mourning the death of his father, claims he is the victim of having trusted Simrin Sood, Vijay Palande and the two men who stabbed his father to death. Tiku has also been battling substance abuse, for which he was in rehab at a centre in Jaipur.
Incidentally, Vijay Palande, Simrin Sood’s partner in crime/brother/lover/uncle, had acquired a Slovakian business visa on behalf of Anuj Tiku. Given their penchant for plastic surgery and changing identities, it makes you wonder if Palande and his femme fatale had some Slovakian blokes in mind to seduce. And then deduce.
Also read: Violent deaths in Bollywood