Businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment signed an agreement with former French President Francois Hollande’s partner Julie Gayet to produce a film, two days before Hollande attended Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in 2016, The Indian Express reported on Friday. During his visit, Hollande signed a memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver 36 Rafale aircraft to India.
On September 23, 2016, India and France signed a deal under which New Delhi would procure 36 Rafale aircraft worth Rs 59,000 crore from Paris. Later that year, Reliance Defence joined the the offset programme of the Rafale deal through Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, in which it holds a 51% stake. Dassault Aviation, which manufactured the jets, owns 49%. Reliance and Dassault announced a joint venture in India in October 2016.
The film Reliance Entertainment part-produced with Gayet’s firm, Rouge International, was titled Tout La-Haut. It was released in France on December 20, 2017. It was never released in India. Two months prior to the film’s release, Dassault Aviation chairperson Eric Trappier and Anil Ambani laid the foundation stone for the manufacturing facility in Nagpur, The Indian Express said.
The newspaper said that neither Gayet’s firm, Rouge International, nor Reliance Entertainment responded to its queries. Rouge International said that no replies should be expected.
The Opposition has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of granting the contract to Ambani’s firm, instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was to make the aircraft in India before the Bharatiya Janata Party government entered a new deal with France.
The Centre has claimed that it had no role in the deal between Dassault Aviation and Reliance, a point seconded by Ambani. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday demanded evidence from the Congress that the Rafale deal was bad for India. He added that his government had negotiated to keep prices in the deal 20% lower that what the Congress had negotiated in 2007.