Scam 2003: The Telgi Story tells us the price that you end up paying when there is absolutely no end to your desires. What Abdul Karim Telgi never understood was that money can’t buy the two most essential things in life: happiness and health. Well, we are not disillusioned to say that money does not matter; it does matter, and one should earn enough so that they and their family can live an easy and comfortable life. But saying that, the problem arises when money becomes the priority of one’s life, and everything starts revolving around it so much so that you are ready to put everything at stake for it.
After seeing Telgi’s story, the thought that came to our mind was how much money could be called ‘enough’. Lucky are those who can put a limit on their desires, and they can put up their hands and say that they don’t want more. It is said that the conscience of those who have fewer needs in life is very strong, and obviously, Telgi was not one of them. Abdul had come from an underprivileged background, and when he stepped into a goldmine called Mumbai, there was no stopping him. Telgi very soon realized that in the city of dreams, life could change overnight, provided a person was ready to dirty his hands. At least in the SonyLIV’s Scam 2003, when Telgi was a fruit vendor and when he met Shaukat for the very first time, we could never imagine that he would have the audacity to commit some grave crimes and that too in an unabashed manner where not even once did he question his own actions. Once he came to Mumbai, the fear of one day losing everything and returning to where he had come from haunted him like nothing else. He often told Jhaveri that in this lifetime, he would do whatever it took but not go back to that lifestyle where he had to work hard to make ends meet.
Abdul had a huge ego, and he understood very early in his life that this world respects only those who have money. Everything in this life is evaluated according to the amount of money you are getting in return. No matter how brilliant a student is in his studies, if he isn’t able to get a high-paying job, he will be called a failure. And this is the hard reality of life: human beings and their values are very fickle by nature and everything is forgiven if a person has a big Bank account. Telgi had no qualms about counterfeiting stamp paper and defrauding the government, and he also had the talent to speak lies with a straight face. He kept her in the dark, always telling her that he was doing some legitimate business, which was probably the worst thing he could have done with her. That woman supported him through thick and thin, and never even once did she get suspicious of his activities.
We believe that Telgi should have had the courtesy to at least not break her trust as he did. As much as we empathize with a person who struggles every day to make ends meet, it cannot be used as an excuse to indulge in criminal activities. Telgi knew that corruption could be his biggest ally, as people’s consciences in today’s world can be bought very easily, provided you know their weak points. Some wanted money, some wanted respect, and some wanted to feel that they were in power. Telgi had this superpower where he very quickly understood the sensibilities of the man and hit him at that sweet spot to make him a part of his system. But there was a downside to playing with the law and infusing it with all kinds of unscrupulous activity. Telgi was under stress almost at all times because he knew that one wrong move and he would be sent to jail for a lifetime.
When the stakes are high, an individual always stays on his toes, and sooner or later, it starts impacting his mental and physical health. Telgi was suffering from diabetes and many other ailments. The doctor had told him that his lifestyle, together with the anxiety and stress that his professional life was giving him, was not at all sustainable. But Telgi, at that time, had bigger things to cater to. He paid heed neither to the advice given to him by the doctor nor to what his wife told him. Telgi paid a very heavy price for his greed, as in 2006, he was found guilty by the court of various charges. It was said that the man had approximately 36 properties throughout India, and we don’t know how much more he wanted.
In the year 2017, Telgi’s health started deteriorating, and the doctors figured out that he was suffering from meningitis, apart from various other ailments. All that money was not able to save Abdul Karim Tegli, and he died in 2017 at Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru. The fact that Telgi was able to go on for such a long time says a lot about our society. From the commissioner to the biggest politicians, everybody was on his payroll. Telgi was undeniably an intelligent man, and if he had used it in the right manner, nobody would have been able to stop him from becoming a business tycoon. We know that it’s easier said than done, but what we don’t agree with is that no legitimate way existed that he could have opted for and made his life better.
We agree that it is quite possible that he wouldn’t have been able to make such mad money, but at least, he would have been happy with his wife and child. Even his friend and partner at one time, Kaushal Jhaveri, told him that he was really stretching the limit, but obviously, it had no impact on Telgi, who wanted to make it big by hook or crook. We agree that for a moment or two, Telgi would have felt happy seeing that 8-figure bank balance, but was it worth living your entire life in such anxiety and fear and then ultimately succumbing to your illness, leaving your family behind to fend for themselves, and dealing with the embarrassment of being associated with such a criminal? The second volume of Scam 2003: The Telgi Story is yet to be released, and we will get to witness how the man slows trends towards his own doom.