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Mona accuses Balaji of contract breach

By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Thursday, August 24, 2006

On August 12, HiTLIST reported that actress Mona Ambegaonkar had been approached by Balaji Telefilms for a new show, Karam Apna Apna. Later, there were reports that she had been chucked out for quoting an astronomical amount of money.

Mona, who is a single mother, is extremely guarded when it comes to talking about her personal life. In February, she delivered a baby girl but has refused to disclose the father's name. Now, Mona is slighted by these rumours and wants to set the record straight on her problems with Balaji.

How I was approached
On August 5, Shalu (a production assistant) from Balaji called to ask if I had dates from August 20 for a new project. They wanted 20 days a month from me. I said that I would give 30 days if they wanted, but I would work only eight hours. She said she would get back on that. Money was never the issue.

Confidentiality clause
I had a confidentiality clause that I wanted in my contract. The clause stated that there is to be no usage of my personal life or my family to promote the show. It was a clause to protect my personal life, my family and me. They agreed.

Contract was signed
On August 8, I went to the legal department in Balaji and inserted the confidentiality clause. They made me formulate that clause and it clearly states that 'you will not use my personal life to promote the programme, in order to protect my interests.' Everything else was perfect.

Life is blissful
Audition ho gaya. I was so excited. I started preparations. I was told my flight to Kolkata (the show is being shot there) leaves for August 13 at 10 pm. On August 12, my CA and legal advisor called me late in the evening and told me about the MiD DAY article. (Mona was upset with the show's creative head Doris De's quote, "We adjust with lots of artistes for ads, serials and shows, so why shouldn't we accommodate Mona, who has a small baby to look after?" and Ekta Kapoor's quote, "She has a small baby and naturally she would want time with her.") He read it out and I went cold. I said, 'Yaar, it's a breach of contract.'

Make Balaji aware
My CA said, 'You must make them aware of it or what's the purpose of putting it in the contract?' He knows I can be bull-headed about the things that I believe in, but I don't apologise for it. If I am not that, then I am nothing.

Being obsessive
Yes I'm being obsessive, but it's important to me. It will continue being important to me until the time I'm prepared to talk about it. But I will do it on my own terms, with the grace and dignity I think it deserves. I am very clear in my head about that.

I am not unprofessional
When I spoke to Doris, she said that she meant it only in my interest. I told her she had breached my interests. Are they trying to milk me for publicity? That's precisely what my clause in the contract does not allow.

No knowledge
Then Tanushree came on the line. She said that she's Ekta's associate and is authorised to speak on her behalf. She then said they didn't know about the confidentiality clause. I said, 'If you don't know that as a corporate entity, then that is the biggest flaw in your organisation.

You don't know about the terms of the contract of the person you are going to work with the next day?' Would Ekta have let me go free if I had breached her contract? No. It was 11.30 pm, and I was exhausted and weeping. I was not taking the flight the next day. I told Shalu, 'You have to respect me and respect the trust that I have placed in you. If you don't do that, I can't work with you.'

Meeting with Shobha
On Monday (August 14), I met Shobhaji and explained the situation to her. She understood but said, 'Jo kuch bhi bola gaya, fact hai'. I don't deny that, but woh fact mera hai! I will introduce it to the world when I am ready to. I told Shobhaji that I won't be able to do the show.

Back to square one
Eventually, we managed to sort things out and I was once again scheduled to leave on August 15 for Kolkata on the evening flight. At 8 am, Shalu called and told me that I now had to leave by the 4.30 pm flight. We were back to square one. It was impossible as I had many things to arrange. So in all humility, I say no. I knew they had a replacement ready (Achint). I didn't feel bad about stepping out at the last moment because I was cast at the last moment.

Financial constraints?
Paisa aata hai, paisa jaata hai. I've been working since I was 14. Work is my narcotic. I go for rehearsals when people go for parties. I can have a fight over my principles, but never over money.

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