Dubai-based businessman steps forward to pay for auctioned Zee trophy

MUMBAI: It was a charity auction that had threatened to go horribly wrong after the highest bidder backed out when "reality struck".

Fortunately, the Zee Cine Awards organizers have been saved the blushes after Anoop Singh, a Dubai-based Indian businessman, stepped forward and agreed to cough up the Dhs450,000 that had been pledged during the charity auction that was one of the highlights of the event held on 26 March 2004. The money was to go to St Anthony's Home for the Aged in Mumbai's Bandra suburb.

Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan, who did the honours while exhorting the crowd "to show how rich Dubai is", certainly was not expecting one of its rich and star-struck NRI sons to do the cop out act. If the sight of the muscled Khan embracing Rajesh Dhanak, who comes from a family of wealthy jewellers in this "city of gold" , was one of the climatic moments of the show. The anticlimax was the news of Dhanak backing out.

According to the Dubai-based Gulf News, Singh, who had planned to buy himself a new Mercedes Benz with the money, decided to pitch in because the mistake in the auction threatened to "leave a sour taste" not only as regards the image of the auction but the whole Indian community in Dubai.

"I do not need the trophy. I suggest that the trophy remains with Zee and that in the next Zee Cine awards it should be brought up again for auctioning starting from Dhs 450,000. This way so many of the poor and needy would get the assistance they deserve," Gulf News has quoted Singh as saying.

When contacted, Zee Network special projects director Yogesh Radhakrishnan confirmed that Singh's offer would be accepted. Initial media reports had said that there were five possible candidates who would pool in to make up the amount.

The Zee Cine Trophy that Dhanak received from Salman Khan has a 24-carat gold Zee insignia on it. It is 500 mm high and 100 mm wide and has been designed by the Australian Gold Mine's Citigold Corp.

As for the overnight hero who turned out to be a zero, he reportedly belongs to the family that runs Chetan Jewellers located at Old Gold Souk Deira, Dubai. It is one of Dubai's finest gold stores. 

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