Sony Liv a Digital Feast
Just saw some of the rushes and scenes from the digital film Scam 1992 which is based on the iconic rise and fall of the Big Bull also known as Harshad Mehta who once ruled the Indian stock markets as the top trader in Mumbai. I am sure Wall Street must be one of the inspirations that the makers would have taken. The Scam took place in the year 1992 and the ready forward deal was used to do it. Hear Harshad Mehta who ran a brokerage firm acted as a go between various banks and the government where he traded in government securities which were used by banks to lead money to each other. Over time Harshad had developed a great network where he would borrow money from Banks by giving them fake receipts and then using that money as a float for a period of time. This he did by building a chain of lending banks, the float was then used to buy stocks and trading in the market with high liquidity he was able to manipulate the stock market and increase the price of nay of the stocks. The rising market would bring in more retail investors that would push the stock market indices even higher.
He would then sell his stocks at a healthy profit as the markets went up in the bull run and then return the money to the banks in return taking back his fake receipts. The scam went on un noticed as the markets rallied, but when the bear phase kicked in the panic buttons where pushed as Harshad lost huge money and was unable to pay the banks what he had borrowed. A Times of India Journalist exposed the Rs 5000 crore scam in a news story and in months CBI arrested Harshad who was being hailed as the messiah of the markets till then as he had also bought in a lot of investors to the market he was a hero for many small time investors who profited during the bull run.
The digital movie now showing on Sony Liv looks smart and smashing the images and the shots are catchy and so is Pratik Gandhi who plays Harshad Mehta in the film. The man had a sad end he died in 2001 eight years after the scam broke spending time in prison and finally died of a heart attack, I am sure the pressure of 600 suits many of them still running after his death took its toll on him. A la ! the wolf of wall street he perished, at his peak he owned many luxury cars and bungalows around the city and was admired by many of his workmates as a messiah but like all messiahs the fall is inevitable.
The parlance of greed is good rules the markets and Harshad was its biggest star, he was the first big success and failure of Indians open market system. A icon or a devil it depend how you see him, but one thing was for sure he was a rock star that shone for a while and then perished under the weight of his own ambitions. I still remember reading his story in India Today and the Sunday magazine in those days, I would follow the scam on New Track even a battery of big lawyers like Ram Jethmalani could not save him from his doom and the weight of his down fall must have affected his mental and physical health. At the end he died with nothing but debt on his head, a testimony that greed doesn’t pay in the long run.