Tejpal got Ponty Chadha to fund club for ‘select Indians...great intimacy’

TejpalTarun Tejpal joined hands with controversial liquor baron Ponty Chadha before he was killed last year.
In what is seen as the coming together of unlike minds, Tarun Tejpal, the founder and former editor-in-chief of Tehelka, joined hands with controversial liquor baron Ponty Chadha before he was killed last year to start an exclusive private club for "select urban Indians".

Called 'Prufrock', the club, in Tejpal's own words, aims to be "a vibrant cultural space, where a highly accomplished, eclectic community of select urban Indians can meet and engage in an atmosphere of great intimacy with eminent people who make and shape the world".

"All this over fine drinks and exquisite cuisines created by a celebrity chef," Tejpal said in an email invitation to prospective members.

Officials in Wave Industries, the flagship company of the Chadha Group, said Chadha decided to invest in Prufrock in early 2012 after Tejpal made a business presentation on the concept of an exclusive private club.

Chadha was killed in a shootout in his farmhouse in Delhi in November 2012 but his son Manpreet 'Monty' Chadha decided to honour all business commitments of his father, they said.

Prufrock is owned by Thriving Arts Pvt Ltd, which was set up in June this year. On July 10, the company issued shares to two stakeholders at Rs 10 per share — 72 per cent to Tejpal and 28 per cent to his sister Neena Tejpal.

On August 26, Chadha Hotel's Pvt Ltd invested Rs 2 crore for 11,111 shares issued at Rs 1,800 per share.

"Chadha Group invested in this company after a detailed presentation on the concept of the business. Our investment was from the point of view of profit and exit when it appreciates. We are not involved in the daily operations," a Chadha Group spokesperson told The Indian Express.

Neena Tejpal did not respond to a mail seeking her comments about the venture.

Prufrock is to be located in the M-Block market of the upscale Greater Kailash-II area and the interior work of the club is in progress at present. It is a few buildings away from the Tehelka office and workers at the site said construction began in July and is expected to be completed in three months from now.

Real estate agencies said annual rent for the space is estimated to be around Rs 6.5 crore.

Tejpal explained the concept of the elite club in an email he sent in October to a select group informing them about his new venture and asking them to join Prufrock.

"The team that created the iconic Think now presents an exciting and original idea: Prufrock.with a carefully curated, by-invitation-only membership, Prufrock, is located in the heart of South Delhi...in a space that spans three floors, each with a distinct mood, all built on a value for ideas," he said.

The Think team refers to Thinkworks Pvt Ltd, owned by Tejpal, Neena and Shoma Chaudhury, the managing editor of Tehelka. It organises the Think fest in Goa and Tejpal is accused of sexually assaulting a colleague during its 2013 edition earlier this month.

Wave Industries is one of 34 sponsors of the event.

In his email, Tejpal said membership to Prufrock "will be scrupulously monitored, and will be very limited. the cost of membership has been kept extremely modest - the criterion of Prufrock being not means but attributes. not money, but a mindset".

The annual membership fee is Rs 12,360.

"Membership to the club would mean an invaluable opportunity to listen to those who sit in the country's hot seats, wielding great power and influence, politicians and businessmen, social activists and spiritual leaders, and engage with the complex mechanics and politics of building India, through conversations held in an atmosphere of rare intimacy," Tejpal said in the email.

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