Lalit Tehlan, a close friend of top model and fashion designer Rohit Ball for many years, has accused senior fashion designer Rohit Gandhi of harassment, slander and racism. Rohit Gandhi has filed a police complaint claiming that his life is in danger from Tehlan. We dug deep to bring you both sides.
‘They are jealous of me’
In a shocking interview with HT City, Lalit Tehlan opens up about being mocked by ‘elite’ designers including Rohit Gandhi and says they can’t digest his closeness to Gudda, as Rohit Ball is popularly called.
“In December, I was in Goa when I got a call from the Delhi Police that designer Rohit Gandhi had filed a complaint saying he had threatened to kill me,” says Tehlan. HT City has a copy of the complaint, which has been registered at the Tughlaqabad Police Station in Delhi. “I joined the investigation because I had done nothing wrong,” says Tehlan.
He puts it down to sheer jealousy on the part of Rohit Gandhi and some other top fashion designers. “They couldn’t understand how a Jat from a simple family got so much success and became so close to Gudda. They have created a WhatsApp group to criticize and discuss me. They make fun of me for not understanding English. Haath se khana khane pe majak utte hain mera.”
According to Tehlan, his growing closeness to the force over the years led to this. “We have stood by each other for the past 20 years. I once took a pill for Gudda. I would die for Gudda. They feel insecure because of our friendship and they can’t even see me succeed,” he says, later referring to the success of the company Alexander Jeans by Rohit Ball, in which Tehlan is a partner. He claims the brand will open retail stores in Paris, Milan, London and New York. has prepared, and other designers are “burning with envy”.
Bal’s deteriorating health over the past few years seems to have exacerbated the conflict between Tehlan and Ball’s friends and family. The designer, who last appeared in public at the FDCI India Men’s Weekend in Goa in January this year, has not done a full fashion show in many years. One of the brightest faces in Indian fashion, the 61-year-old has reportedly been in and out of rehab and hospitals for alcohol abuse and resulting health problems.
“They are accusing me of not taking care of Gudda. Even when Gudda is by my side, they drag me into the mud by spreading evil lies. I am taking full care of his health. In fact, Rohit Gandhi spoiled Gudda’s health by feeding him alcohol. I am a simple, private person. And my business is good. Apart from Alexander Jeans, I have also started a social media platform, Patakaa.com, which has a good investment. I have big dreams, and I am passionate about my work. I am proud to be a Jat and proud of my desi roots. The false complaints of some crazy people will not stop my success,” says Tehlan.
‘Lalit doesn’t care about dolls’
Designer Rohit Gandhi (of the Rohit Gandhi-Rahul Khanna label), who filed a death threat complaint with the police against Lalit Tehlan, says he did so after receiving death threats over the phone from various cities in Haryana. “Lalit is an aggressive breed. He does not allow Gudda to meet anyone. Gudda has pancreatitis, and he has reached a critical stage of the disease, but Lalit doesn’t care,” Gandhi said, lamenting Tehlan’s indifference to Ball’s deteriorating health.
Confirming that he and other well-wishers of Bal informed the latter’s family, Gandhi adds, “Yes, we informed everyone that Lalit was responsible for Gudda’s health and this enraged Lalit and he started sending me death threats from unknown numbers. That’s when I went to the police. Gone. The calls have now stopped, so I won’t pursue the complaint.”
Despite recovering from a massive heart attack in 2010, Bal’s friends and family seem united in the belief that Tehlan is responsible for Bal’s poor health. Another close friend of Bal’s, Julie Deb, a marketing professional, has also lodged a complaint. Tehlan vs. Malviya Nagar Police Station. “In November, we learned that Gudda’s health was very critical. We informed his family and admitted him to Medanta Hospital. Gudda was almost dead but Lalit didn’t care. He took Gudda’s jaguar and cook and went to Goa, leaving her alone to die. He got angry with me and Rohit Gandhi after we helped admit Gudda to the hospital. Lalit threatened to throw acid on me. I didn’t pursue my complaint because Gudda asked me not to, but at that time, I was really scared for my life,” she says. Deb also alleged that for the past two years, Tehlan has isolated Gudda from her friends who care for her. “Lalit was worried about Gudda’s financial situation. Just care. He once said that he gave Gudda alcohol while he was recovering in Chhatarpur rehabilitation last year. I can’t bear to see Gudda’s close friends and Lalit doing this to Gudda.
Model Nirbhay Chaudhary also filed a complaint against Tehlan at Preet Vihar police station last July. He said that the threat came from Tehlan and his brother Pankaj Khatri. Chaudhary says, “I decided not to pursue it as Gudda called my parents and told them that he would ensure that Lalit does not harm me.
A close relative of Ball spoke to us on condition of anonymity and blamed Tehlan for the child’s condition: “Lalit has substance abuse and anger issues. He is slowly killing Gudda with alcohol, while the family wants him to give up alcohol completely due to his health condition. Lalit is living on Gudda’s money. He gets her drunk and sells Gudda expensive gifts sent by friends. When Gudda fell ill in November, Lalit left him at Moolchand Hospital as he thought Gudda would not survive. He just ran away. We took him to Medanta, where he was admitted for a month. Lalit did not check Gudda even once. Lalit lied to us about Gudda’s health. Gudda does not say anything against Lalit because he gives Lalit access to alcohol. It’s heartbreaking to see Gudda so damaged.”
Another close friend of Gudda said on condition of anonymity, ‘In the last two years, Gudda has rarely gone out. He has been fighting with all his close friends because of Lalit. The industry has lost its legend. Gudda is in very bad condition. He almost died in November. After her friends took her to the hospital, doctors had to remove alcohol and sleeping pills from her system,” he says, while Tehlan has given strict instructions to the domestic helper not to allow anyone to visit her Defense Colony residence. “Nobody is allowed to enter the house. Gudda’s mind is not functioning due to alcohol and sleeping pills. Lalit emotionally blackmails her and insults her by using words like ‘Buddha’ and ‘impotent’ in her anger. Gudda’s family is also very sad that they could not save her. It is,” he adds.
Friends think the child’s condition is getting worse. “It is sad to see such a famous designer wither away. Lalit wants to stay away from Gudda because of Tehlan. He has ruined Gudda’s life and work. Friends have tried their best to save her from Lalit, but they see no hope now,” concludes Julie Deb.
Lalit is part of my life: Rohit Bal
Faced with flying accusations, the man in the eye of the storm has chosen the side he believes. “Lalit is the kindest human being in this world. He is a part of my life. These people made baseless allegations. It’s utter nonsense. They have nothing good to do. They are trying to portray him as a gangster. Tomorrow I can go and say something about someone and may try to destroy his character. Has Lalit ever harmed them? Do they have any record or any kind of evidence against him? They should be put in their place. Lalit has his whole life ahead of him and what they did to him is wrong and it has to stop, “says Bal. Tehlan denies the allegations that Tehlan threatened his life, saying Baal saved his life not once but three times. ‘Lalit rushed me to the hospital at 4 am after I had a heart attack. He saved me two more times,’ he says.
Who is Lalit Tehlan?
Lalit Tehlan may be known to many as a friend of designer Rohit Ball, but the 6ft 2in tall, 36-year-old has had an illustrious career as one of India’s top male models, walking in India’s prestigious fashion shows. Bal went abroad when he was 17 years old.
Before modelling, he did boxing in school and college and is said to have won two Asian championships. At the age of 19, he founded Force One, a firm that provided private security for celebrities at fashion shows and nightclubs. The firm lists international celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kerry Adler among its clients. Tehlan married Iranian actress Mandana Karimi (of Bigg Boss Season 9 fame) in 2011, but the couple separated a few years later. Tehlan got back together with Rohit Ball and currently has a business partner with him in Rohit Ball’s denim brand Alexander Jeans. Tehlan was honored by the Fashion Design Council of India last year for her lifetime contribution to modelling.