There's a definite design to demolish Upen Patel's reputation. And Upen knows who's behind the smearing schemes. "I'm being made out to be this publicity hungry woman-eating Casanova with nothing better to do than chase skirts. I know exactly who's behind these."
Apparently, a certain section of the industry is determined to hold Upen up for ridicule. Off the record, he names some people who have in some way or other felt slightly threatened or rejected by the actor. "But the truth is I'm not here to take up a panga with anyone. I'm accused of having a temper problem. Fine. But do I display my temper unnecessarily? I got into a situation with the One Two Three director Ashwani Dhir. But did you see how silly I looked in One Two Three, especially when I take my shirt off in the middle of a song, everyone laughed when it wasn't meant to be funny."
Upen takes a deep breath. "I'm accused of being the kiss-and-tell type. Will anyone, even my closest friends, be able to claim I've shared my girlfriend secrets with anyone? I'm not that kind of a guy."
What about the stories of Upen whizzing past Mumbai's fast lanes with Tabu? "Did I call up journalists and say I'm seeing the lady? Did I plant stories of our friendship? No! The next thing I hear Tabu is upset with me, for what? What have I done? Or Tanisha Mukherjee for that matter. I've been shouting from rooftops that I'm single. Will someone please listen to me?"
When other actors' past rare its head, it's often an ugly occurrence, but Upen Patel feels he's being hounded for a perfectly normal past. "The latest attempt to force me unnecessarily into a corner is a group of pictures featuring me and Deepika Padukone released on the net by someone who has nothing better to do. Now, I'm being accused of leaking out those pictures! What would I gain by doing something so silly? It's not as if they're sleazy pictures. They're part of mine and Deepika's modelling days. We shot the photo-spread for a men's magazine. What's wrong with that? I've shot similar pictures with other model-friends like Yana Gupta. What is the point of bringing them out? If they're meant to embarrass the lady, then they don't work. I'm very proud of my modelling days and all that I did back then."
Upen insists he knows who his enemies are. "But I won't give them the pleasure of publicity by naming them. Neither will I let them demoralise me. I came to Mumbai from London with a dream. Today, I've made a place for myself and for my sister whose modelling agency is doing very well. I will make it big without being a star-son or having godfathers and sugar daddies in the industry."