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Mafatlal feud takes a bizarre turn

Sunday, 6 November 2005 - 1:45am IST

Battle for fortune, including 14,000 square foot house at Altamount Road, gets murkier, as DNA finds that ‘son’ Ajay Mafatlal is daughter Aparna!

Battle for property and wealth gets murkier, as DNA finds that ‘son’ Ajay Mafatlal is actually daughter Aparna!

MUMBAI: The twists and turns in the fight for the Mafatlal fortune, including the posh 14,000 square foot house at Altamount Road could give Ekta Kapoor and Karan Johar's storywriters a run for their money.

DNA found a copy of a court document on Saturday that indicated that Ajay Mafatlal and Aparna Mafatlal are the same person.

The second of four siblings, sources said, underwent a sex change last October to stake claim as the elder son of the family. The trust of the late Yogendra Mafatlal, who died in January, would have otherwise passed on to his youngest child Atulya, who was the only son.

It was reported on Saturday morning that Yogendra Mafatlal's 72-year-old widow Madhuri had filed a suit in the Bombay high court accusing son Atulya and daughter-in-law Sheetal of harassment. She said she and her 'son' Ajay feared being thrown out of the house.

"I know Ajay as Appaben and will always call her that," said Leelabai, who served as domestic help in the Mafatlal household for 30 years, until four months ago. "I do not know or care how Aparna became Ajay, but I do know that she was very unfair to me and used to shout and hit me a lot."

Society circles, meanwhile, insist the sex change is old hat. "I've seen Aparna at functions and even though it's obvious she is a lady, I know that after her sex change operation she prefers to be known as a man," said designer and socialite Nisha Jamvwal.

"As in the case of Bobby Darling, people's preferences are their own personal business, but it does bring out a question mark in my brain as to why she would do this."

Another prominent society lady, who did not wish to be named, said, "Aparna underwent a hysterectomy at Breach Candy hospital and a liposuction for her breasts under Dr Gajiwala, but that doesn't make her a man. In fact, Aparna was married to Sandeep Parekh in '79, and like all his daughters, Yogendra Mafatlal gave her a flat at Chitrakoot Building on Altamount Road.

"However, she had a divorce just a year or so later and asked her alleged girlfriend and business partner Jay Kunder to move in with her. Her father was furious and even stopped talking to her after the two acquired loans on the family name and failed to repay them. In '98, Aparna moved back into the main house and started calling herself Ajay. She is now rumoured to be seeing a married woman who lives in Hong Kong. We often joke that Ekta Kapoor could make a soap called 'Kyunki Appaben bhi kabhi ladki thi...'"

While Aparna Mafatlal remained unavailable for comment to DNA, her residence saw crews of two prominent television news networks pay a visit, apparently at her behest, to hear her mother's side of the story. Security at the building told DNA that the eldest member of the family, Yogendra's brother Arvind Mafatlal, had called them from Chitrakoot, where he is undertaking some social work, and asked them not to allow journalists in.

Atulya and Sheetal Mafatlal maintained that the issue is an internal family matter and they would not like to comment on it.

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