Pirates of Bollywood – Legal Thriller, Criminal, Mafia, Copyright, Novel – Episode 10
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Authored by Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala
After freshening up and straightening his tie in the restroom, Lamba headed to the designated conference room for his meeting. Munching on a mouth freshener to camouflage the odour of alcohol, he settled down at the head of the rectangular table. Then, he took his phone out and started playing Temple Run, pretending to be busy. His mind was obviously not in the game and the evil monkeys were getting the better of him, when Priya escorted Helen into the room. He stood up almost reflexively, “Welcome Ms. Helen. It is an honor to meet you. How may I help you?” Lamba said, shaking her hand.
“Thanks for agreeing to meet me at short notice, Mr. Lamba,” Helen responded, smiling as she took her seat. Introductions and pleasantries out of the way, Helen initiated her fact-finding mission. Helen started cautiously. “Mr. Lamba, I hope you understand the gravity of the situation and will help us resolve the escalating crisis. We don’t have a lot of time on hand, and I expect full co-operation from your side,” she informed Lamba earnestly. Helen’s intention was to be as vague as possible, sound genuine, sprinkle facts at right instances and gain Lamba’s confidence. Once she achieved that, Helen was confident that culling information out from him would not be a difficult task.
“What crisis?” Lamba croaked, clearing his dry throat, feigning confusion.
“Mr. Lamba, I will be as forthcoming as possible. We know everything about your project and people involved. Actually, more about the project than you can imagine. I saw you at Viren Bhatia’s place today morning, and you know it,” Helen asserted, looking at his crimson eyes.
Helen noted the anxiety and recognition in Lamba’s eyes when she mentioned Viren’s name and the project and that was all she needed to drive the conversation. “What do you know?” Lamba mumbled, his voice barely audible. Helen heard him, yet sat expressionless, deliberately ignoring his question as if she had heard nothing. The ploy always worked for her to bring weak-minded criminals into her grasp, and it worked this time as well.
“Ms. Helen, what do you know about the project,” Lamba asked again, slightly louder than the previous time. The nervous moment of baiting had arrived, and Helen weaved the specifics into a believable tale.
“We know about Project Pi. Viren Bhatia has been under our radar for a while now and we have been watching you as well. We are aware of your connection to him,” Helen dropped on Lamba all the facts in her possession and patiently waited for his response. She did not have to wait for long as the effect of the statements on Lamba was quick and instantaneous. All of a sudden, he seemed and looked well informed.
“I know how you learned about Project Pi despite the fact that it was highly confidential,” he said triumphantly. “Shan told you, didn’t he? Who else has the guts and power to pull the police into this? Apart from Viren and me, only Shan and few of his men know the entire story,” he concluded, connecting what he felt were the dots between Unni’s and Helen’s conversations.
“You got it Mr. Lamba,” Helen improvised, “Shan did give us an overview. But things have been bizarre, as you know. Viren’s murder has brought us back to square one. We need you to tell us the entire story of Project Pi in detail, for the record. That will help us clear your name from the case and nail the perpetrators.
“You seem to know everything. What do you want from me,” Lamba asked, unable to understand what Helen expected.
Thinking quickly, Helen decided to scare Lamba by incriminating him, a common ploy she often used to extract information from a subject. “Mr. Lamba, our sources hint that you could have been involved in some of the criminal activities linked with the murders of entertainment lawyers in the recent past.”
Lamba went pale on hearing that. He attempted to speak, but could only manage a hiss. Pausing for a while for effect, Helen said, “I have reviewed your background, and it seems clean to me. However, I need clear and complete disclosure from you. That is the only way, if any, to prove your innocence. That is, if you are truly innocent” She added. Though Helen hated to use intimidation tactics, her options here were limited and she felt that this could be her only chance before the crime branch made their way to Lamba. Once she finished talking, Helen waited for a response from Lamba. Petrified and worried, Lamba considered his options. Conflicting thoughts ran through his troubled mind and logic escaped him.
Finally, though there were many loose ends in Helen’s story, Lamba decided to go ahead and tell her all about Project Pi. “Ok. I will tell you everything from the start,” he said, staring blankly at his phone. He trusted her by gut, and he decided to go by it. Besides, in the light of persisting threats and the risky path that lay ahead, Lamba thought staying honest with Helen might work in his favor and hopefully, protect him if the project backfired. Moreover, he very well knew that he would need Helen’s support for implementation of Project Pi, and staying in her good books would only help him in the long run.
Upon the arrival of hot coffee just before Lamba began his story, they took a much-needed break. Helen placed her cap on the table and poured herself a cup of coffee. It had been a long day for her and she needed some caffeine to keep her brain functioning. Involuntarily, Lamba gazed at Helen as she sipped her coffee. Despite the tension, he felt a sense of calm, looking at her beautiful face, which seemed to glow, like the full moon on a dark night, in the dimly lit room. Moments later, Lamba was jolted to reality when Helen asked “Shall we start,” pulling her phone out and switching on the voice recorder. He told her the story, or rather parts of the story, he knew.
A Year Ago…
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Copyright, Dr. Kalyan C. Kankanala.
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