The property dispute between the legendary filmmaker Shakti Samanta’s sons took a new turn when the elder one alleged harassment by the younger sibling. Ashim Samanta , 63, filed a suit in the High Court stating that his brother Samir, 61, was preventing him from doing any repair works in the bungalow. Though the court recently has ruled in favour of Ashim and has allowed him to carry out the repair works without any interference from his younger brother, the bungalow still remains disputed with both the brothers fighting out the ownership of it in the court.
Everything was fine till the filmmaker was alive says his elder son Ashim who continues to run the banner of Shakti Films and his father’s legacy. After Shakti Samanta’s death in 2009, Ashim moved to the court to probate (legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a will) his father’s will which was created in 1998.
Shakti Samanta is the man behind hits like Howrah Bridge, China Town, Kashmir Ki Kali, Sawan Ki Ghata and An Evening in Paris. Samanta was among the directors who worked with Shammi Kapoor in the late 1950s and up to the mid '60s, and then with Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna, making a number of classics such as Aradhana, Kati Patang, Anurodh and Amar Prem. He passed away in April 2009 leaving behind a will which later became the bone of contention between the two brothers.
The iconic Samanta bungalow completely rebuilt in 1982 (a part was rebuilt in 1980) stands on a plot measuring 10,000 sq ft in Meera Baug, Santacruz and is divided into two portions. The cost of the bungalow is estimated to be around Rs 150 crore now. During Samanta’s glorious days this bungalow witnessed many special events and parties frequented by yesteryear Bollywood superstars.
The walls of this sprawling mansion still boast of hosting all the legendary stars like Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar and many more.
Samaa Shah, the advocate for Ashim says, “There is a long history of disputes between the two brothers, which has become worse after the death of late Shakti Samanta, especially after probate petition was filed in respect of Will of Shakti Samanta by Ashim who is the executor and who along with his children stand to gain majority of the properties of Late Shakti Samanta under the Will (Samir has been given 30% share of the family business and a few properties too but the rest is given to Ashim and his sons under the Will).”
She further says, “Samir is opposing the Will and as a counter blast, he has fraudulently got his mother to sign a Gift Deed of the Santa Cruz bungalow in Samir’s favour in 2014. This was done secretly as the mother is in Samir’s custody and he does not even allow Ashim and his family to meet the mother. They can only talk to the mother when Samir is not at home.”
The bungalow has two portions - the Eastern portion is occupied by Ashim and his wife and the Western portion is currently occupied by Samir and the mother. The common areas like garden, terrace are shared. This particular property was purchased as a benami property in the name of his wife Mrs. Nilima Samanta. The dispute ended up in the court after Nilima signed a gift deed pledging the bungalow to her son Samir. Both brothers claimed their rights over the property and even on their mother.
“My mother does not stay with me, she stays with Samir. I must say that he takes good care of her, but she is not happy there. She is kept captive. She is not allowed to meet me or my children. The phone lines have been disconnected so that she does not speak to anyone. My brother is a transgender and he does not have a family of his own. Thus, he is jealous of me and keeps on finding new ways of harassing me. He wants to give away the property to outsiders,” alleges Ashim.
He further claims, “I wanted to carry normal repair works in the house. The bathroom was leaking, and some portions here and there were falling. He had objection to that also. He has posted two watchmen outside who keep on staring through my windows. This becomes embarrassing for me when we have guests inside. The other day he dialled up police control just because my dog pooped in his compound. There is a lot of leakage in my portion arising from his first-floor bathroom. The water pipes in the bathroom are damaged/rusted and require to be replaced. But Samir would unnecessarily obstruct them from doing any repair work on the pretext that they are damaging his property. That’s where we approached the court again.”
Though the court has given the permissions for repair without any interference from Samir, the battle is far from over. Many people have been trying to broker peace between the two parties but in vain.
Himanshu Nanda is one such person who was helping the brothers come to term. When contacted he said, “It’s a personal affair and I do not wish to comment on the dispute. If Ashim has gone to the media, then it is his call. I wish to stay away from this.”
When contacted Debrati Nag, the advocate for Samir, refused to comment on the matter.
When we contacted Samir, he first heard out the matter and later refused to comment by saying he will get back if necessary. A mail sent on his email ID remains unanswered too.
Samir stays with his mother in one portion of the bungalow and does not have any other family member staying with him. Meanwhile, Ashim continues to helm Shakti Films and has made many television shows and movies under the banner. Currently he deals with the dubbing of English movies like Avengers, The Incredibles and more.
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