Before exit from Prasar shortlist, Tejpal firm got deal for 52 shows

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The move to induct Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal into the Prasar Bharati board may have been scuttled after he was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague, but Doordarshan is in a spot over a 52-episode series it commissioned from a Tejpal firm.

The state broadcaster had decided to collaborate with the firm, Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd., for the series to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema and paid half the commissioned amount of Rs 2 crore as advance. But Amaraman missed the November 15 deadline for showing the rough cuts.

Tejpal has the largest stake in the company and its other promoters include his siblings Neena Tejpal and Minty Tejpal, Trinamool Congress leader K D Singh and Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka's managing editor until Thursday.

"We have signed an agreement with Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd. — of which Tarun Tejpal is one of the promoters — for a 52-episode series on Indian cinema. We chose the company after its proposal was cleared by several committees," Doordarshan director-general Tripurari Sharan told The Indian Express. "The (Prasar Bharati) board is usually not a part of such decisions. We chose them because they had the relevant expertise and had done such work earlier."

Asked if DD would go ahead with the collaboration following the Tehelka controversy, he said: "Don't force me to take a decision on that."

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar too remained non-committal about the fate of the project. "I am not sure about every operational matter in this because DD is competent to take a call on these kinds of things. Only if there is a crisis or if there is a policy matter does DD get in touch with us," Sircar said.

Tejpal could not be reached on his mobile phone and did not respond to text messages seeking his comment. Neena Tejpal and Chaudhury refused to comment.

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