Yukta Mookhey got married to Prince Tuli from Nagpur in November 2008. She had visited Nagpur during the promotion of her film Memsaab during June-July 2008 when she stayed at his family-owned hotel, Tuli International.
They met each other via people at their hotel and did not exchange numbers initially, but he got her number and they spoke and met a couple of times, met her parents in Mumbai and they agreed to marry soon thereafter. Four years into their marriage, she moved back to Mumbai into her parents’ house and filed a case of domestic violence against Prince and his family on July 4th, 2012. On May 16, 2013 he filed an application for divorce. She has subsequently registered an FIR for domestic violence and unnatural sex against him. She exclusively spoke to TOI about what led her to take this drastic step. Excerpts from the conversation:
When did you first realise there was a problem in your marriage?
Initially when I met him, I obviously had no reason to doubt him. But problems started within the first month of our marriage. Now when I look back, there are things that seem obvious, but at that stage they did not seem odd. For instance, my sister-in-law interrogated me in a hotel till 3 am about how much I earned, what I planned to do with my life, what kind of marriage I would give, what I would do with my money after marriage, whether or not I would give it to my husband or my in-laws, whose name both my Mumbai flats were in, etc. There is a healthy way of asking, but this was covertly done. Usually when the boy and girl are compatible, this does not happen. While Prince is 31, his sister and I are the same age and are 34. She lives in Mumbai with her kids and was probably therefore given the task of interviewing me. Meeting a family person when you are contemplating marriage is fine, but it was different interviewing someone till 3 in the morning in the way it was done. Prince had once asked me, ‘How does it feel to get married into a family where everyone has mistresses?’ I had dismissed it, thinking it to be ridiculous.
They are wealthy people.
Why would they be interested in your money? So it seems, but I had different experiences. They may have disposable income, but if you can’t make use of your culture, education and values, what’s the point ? I never asked him how much money he makes or the details of his family business. In contrast, I was asked why my husband has not been given control of my flats and never even had a joint account with him.
What do you think was his problem with you?
The more I am away from the situation, I have instropected and calmed down and believe that not just Prince, but his whole family have a psycological problem. He lost his older brother to drugs and alcoholism about two years back. Prince, of course, has a very violent streak. If he gets angry for a certain thing, then he doesn’t know what he is doing and you can’t reason with him. It’s difficult for a wife to create understanding with a man who, at the drop of a hat, will lose his temper. And if you don’t get intimidated by his threats, then he will sexually and physically assault you. I lived in Nagpur for about four years during which time, I tried my best to adjust into the new family, a new city and a new way of life. I was not allowed to work and therefore, stayed at home. But the more I was adjusting to be a devoting caring wife and being a dedicated mother, the more and more acrimonious the environment seemed to be getting.
Being from the glamour world, I thought I was well-dressed, but if I was not dressed to his taste when we went out for evening get-togethers, he would denigrate me. I accepted it as my husband’s critical view and tried to look better. If you denegrate your wife before she steps out of the house and physically assaultd her in the car and then expect her to have a smiling and happy face outside, how long can it work out? My in-laws would accuse me of not smiling in front of their relatives. I have been spiritual from the age of 13 and would visit my guru’s ashram in Ganeshpuri, an hour-and-a-half from Mumbai. I started reading up books on relationships, did my meditation and gave it my best shot. They are Sikhs and even accused me of wanting to convert everyone into a Hindu.
Why did you resort to separation?
It reached a point where he was threatening to take my child away from me, was threatening me for life, and for money.
Why would he want money from you?
He would often travel to Mumbai on the pretext of work. I had seen messages from girls to him and had seen him behave in a certain way with girls at parties. So, to avoid my mind getting disturbed, I stopped questioning him about his work in Mumbai. I would tell my father-in-law that my friends in Mumbai had seen him in Mumbai with girls till five in the morning, drunk. He got socially involved with Amit Mehra (son of late Prakash Mehra) who offered him to be a co-producer in Zanjeer for a sum of `1 crore. I did not know much about the film business, but strongly advised him against it even though my father-in-law thought that I was the one instigating him to invest. There was a big spat between Prince and his father where Prince got shooters in civil clothes and had a huge fight with his father. Prince pressurised me to give him one of my flats for raising the money which I refused. Apparently, he had access to one of his father’s accounts from where he did transfer some money to Amit’s account. (Reportedly, Amit Mehra too ran into trouble with his brothers as he was unable to pay up the money for the title of Zanjeer). My husband went berserk threatening me, my parents and his father to give him the money. I had no choice but to leave my matrimonial home and come back to Mumbai to my parents. But Prince continued his threats to me and many of my relatives.
He would say, ‘We are powerful people and know how to buy out the judiciary. All the ministers are in our pockets, I will get your entire family killed in accidents.’ Inspite of his threats, we tried to reason with his parents if he could sit down and discuss it. I always tried to calm him down and find a way to deal with it. I remember his parents also thought that due to his drugs and alcohol problem, he too, had a psychological problem and also went to a counsellor. The only strength that kept me going is my guru’s teachings, which helped me let go and forgive.
Is he attached to your son?
He was not involved as a father. Neither during my pregnancy nor after Ahhreyn was born. He physically traumatised and manhandled the child, which is never in favour of the welfare of a kid. He has abused me mentally, socially and emotionally and would yell at me in front of the kid throwing him around. He calls even now from different numbers abusing me and my parents and threatening me but has not once asked about him.
Were your parents supportive of you?
Initially, they were not and always pushed me to adjust. But he would say to my parents, ‘If your daughter does not please me, then I will go out and do what I want to’. Their family has a tradition of having mistresses. My parents were summoned to Nagpur several times and were told about how they did not give adequate gifts during my marriage. They have a fleet of cars, but still I was accused of not bringing my car from Mumbai. It’s never about the money, it was about the control and making me lose my independence. Once my parents were also with me, that too bothered them. Even though my sister-in-law had two maids, I was not given a maid for four years and would do everything for my son myself.
Where do you stand today emotionally?
I wish I had found this one moment of courage during those four years. You go through so much abuse. In every profile of an abuser you will find that the woman is always made to feel guilty and she is told that she deserves the treatment she has received. You feel psychologically paralysed. My spirituality and my son are the only two things that have helped me keep my sanity. In Nagpur, I was always gripped by fear and would fear seeing the watch turn 12 knowing that he would get up and start misbehaving. I want my son to see me strong and will fight for my son’s rights and mine against people who think that they can buy off the judiciary and the ministry in this country and can intimidate a woman who has a public image by trying to defame her. I have faith in the judiciary and stand as a spiritually strong woman with no malice, anger or resentment against Prince or his family. I have threats to my life and the life of my son. Being a mother has transformed me from being a headstrong person to a loving person. We recently received an application that my mother-in-law is going through chemotherapy. I have reached a state of forgiveness and compassion and have told the cops that given that she is an elderly person, I don’t want to inconvenience her in any way. Prince is an MBA and has worked at JP Morgan in New York and lived in the US for 10 years. Yet inspite of his education and the restraining orders from the High Court on July 4th, 2012, restraining him from talking to the media against my image, we continue to live in the fear of his threats on our lives. (TOI)