An Astonishing Ordeal: Did Abdul Karim Telgi Spend 90 Lakhs in a Bar Really?

The son of an Indian Railways employee, Abdul Karim Telgi is a magician–well, not by profession but by passion–juggling multiple hats simultaneously. He pulled the strings to the Indian government and nudged the ministry to fall apart with one single move. No, he wasn’t a sergeant or philanthropist. Instead, Telgi was a supposed NRI (Non-Residential Indian), who manipulated millions of people and several government officials at once. He made billions in revenue and robbed India of nearly 20,000 Crore (INR) by stamp paper counterfeiting.

As documented by Tushar Hiranandani’s Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, Abdul blew up nearly 90 Lakhs (INR) in a bar. But is it the truth? And if it is, how far did Abdul go with his obnoxious mindset? Here are the answers that will blow your mind! 

Did Abdul Karim Telgi Spend 90 Lakhs in a Bar?

Abdul Karim Telgi as Portrayed by Hansal Mehta

In the first volume of Scam, Telgi (brought to the screen by the phenomenal Hansal Mehta) was portrayed as an invincible and arrogant man who stomped over people and used them to snake his way through the upper tier. To him “morals” was a mere term that could be easily swapped with “money” to shed off his poverty-stricken melancholic backstory. Born and brought up in Karnataka, Telgi, a Commerce graduate, has had to witness a life of minimalism and deficit. Abdul lost his father at a young age and had to work as a fruit vendor to make ends meet. He then migrated to Gulf, after completing his course. 

When he returned from Saudi Arabia to India, he lost the sense of justice and integrity. Telgi then began fake passport counterfeiting and even though he amassed abundant money, he couldn’t buy the ruthless and arrogant image he so dearly desired. Eventually, Abdul established himself as a seemingly normal person, much like that of a diplomatic politician and kept expanding his network–most prominently in Maharashtra. He began frequenting the Topaz Bar in Mumbai, which then boasted an ensemble of Bollywood actresses’ lookalike dancers and Karim fell for Tarannum Khan. As Khan herself mentioned in an interview, “It seemed that Telgi had a fetish for the fakes – from actresses to stamp papers.” 

However, Khan’s glamorous personality wasn’t the reason behind his nearly insane ordeal. Tarannum’s backstory–which consisted of a poverty-stricken family–shook Telgi and spiralled him into a fit of nostalgia. Due to this, he ended up showering Khan with 90 Lakhs in cash, marking his monumental downfall. 

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Was Abdul Karim Telgi Arrested?

“I don’t want to earn money, I want to make it.”

Telgi arrived in India with a mission and his rags to riches story is evidence enough. However, no film or book has captured the true intensity of Telgi’s insanity, which brought him to the cusp of destruction. In 2001, a couple of weeks after he spontaneously blew a hefty amount of money, Abdul was arrested for his fake paper scam. His arrest pulled the curtains on a scandal that enraged India. Beyond Telgi’s involvement with the government officials, several ministers were also caught in the loop.

According to Telgi, he was injected with HIV by these scamsters. Despite playing the police officers like his own puppets, he fell victim to betrayal and was left shaken. To make matters worse, Abdul’s mother, Shariefabee Ladsaab Telgi, passed away during the same time and his wife, Nafisa, threatened to cut all ties with him. He confessed to his crimes and took all the blame, sparing the officials who were involved in the counterfeit, only to have his wife and daughter remember him as something more than a criminal.

He sealed his fate himself and was sentenced to 43 years of rigorous imprisonment by the judiciary. However, before he could fulfil his sentence, Telgi passed away due to multiple organ failure on October 23, 2017.

Did Abdul Karim Telgi Spend 90 Lakhs in a Bar?–FAQs

1. Who is Abdul Karim Telgi?

He was a fraudulent forger who operated under the alias of a businessman

2. Was Telgi Involved in the Stamp Paper Scam?

Yes, Telgi was the mastermind behind the stamp paper counterfeit.

3. Did Abdul Karim Telgi Spend 90 Lakhs in a Bar?

Yes, he voluntarily spent 90 Lakhs in a bar on his alleged girlfriend, Tarannum Khan.

4. Is Scam 2003 Centred On Abdul Karim Telgi?

Yes, Scam 2003 is centred around Telgi and chronicles his journey of weaving through poverty and resorting to illegal methods of earning.

5. What Happened to Telgi?

Telgi was arrested in 2001 and sentenced to 43 years of imprisonment.

6. Where is Abdul Karim Telgi Now?

Telgi passed away in 2017, at the age of 56, due to meningitis and multiple organ failure.

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