supermodel Ujjwala Raut and her Englishman husband Maxwell Sterry just got messier with Sterry sending out graphic letters to the media accusing Raut of abuse and intimidation.
At the centre of this bitter feud is their three-year-old daughter Ksha.
Dahisar girl Ujjwala, who has walked the ramp for the world’s leading designers like Ungaro, Cavalli, Gucci and Paul Smith, married model-turned-entrepreneur Sterry at an exclusive ceremony hosted by David Bowie and his wife Iman five years ago. But their jet-set marriage soon began to unravel as their careers took them on different paths, leading to much bitterness and even a slasher-style knife attack.
Sterry, who is contesting Ujjwala’s divorce plea in Mumbai saying he would respond only in New York where they were married and where their child was born, has now accused the supermodel of intimidation and trying to get him deported from the country.
Things between them reached a head on December 10 last year, alleges Sterry, when Ujjwala entered their Goa home and “started to use abusive language in front of our daughter and myself. When I asked her to stop, she grabbed my neck. I pushed her back in self-defence; she lost her balance and fell to the floor. She then ran to the kitchen, opened the kitchen drawer and picked up a big knife and turned on me. I ran back and shut the door. Ujjwala started to stab the door with the knife and trying to kick the door down, screaming and swearing.
I was holding the door down with all my strength and our daughter was crying sitting on the bed, I was terrified. Momentarily it stopped, then I head a loud breaking of glass. Ujjwala had smashed the bathroom window and was climbing inside the room with the knife in her hand. I grabbed Ksha in my arms and headed out of the bedroom. Ujjwala followed quickly behind us. I ran to the street, where she finally stopped her pursuit,” he has alleged in his letter to the media.
According to Sterry, the matter was resolved by Mapusa Police Station, following an FIR filed by both parties, each claiming that the other was attempting to kill them. “Ujjwala used her bloodied knee, caused by her trying to kick down the bedroom door. I was put in a lock-up. After subsequent meetings and interviews by the Mapusa police, they advised Ujjwala to retract her FIR on grounds of insufficient evidence to verify her claims.” Both Raut and Sterry withdrew their respective FIRs. When contacted, the Mapusa Police Station confirmed this incident. “This matter has been going on for months. There have been complaints and counter-complaints by both sides,” said an official from the station. On the 12th of January, Raut returned to Mumbai with Ksha and filed a divorce petition, stating that she was terrified for her and her daughter’s life.
But this concern for their daughter, alleges Sterry, is new-found. “There are only two occasions that Ujjwala has looked after Ksha single-handedly, first, when she was five months old, when I initially went back to Goa from New York to get our house in order, and the second time when she was two-and-a-half years old, between June 20 until September 10, 2008. When she was brought back from New York, the child was skinny and had to be fed every two hours, and she was taking suppositories to go to the toilet. Within a week of being with me, she was eating three meals a day and going to the toilet without the use of artificial help,” he claims.
But following the knife incident, Ujjwala filed a divorce petition in the Bandra Family Court, citing danger to her and her daughter’s life from Sterry. But just a month later, she asked him to pick up Ksha at the airport on February 14 because she had to go to Italy on an assignment. “This is a woman who is stating in court in a sworn document that I, her husband, am a danger to her and the child’s life, yet she has no hesitation in asking me to look after her because she wants to go to Italy,” he says.
When she returned from Italy, Sterry, who is a director with a mining company in India, says, her hard partying and late nights again left him to take care of Ksha. During this time she also went to the State Bank of India,
Mapusa branch, and terminated their joint account. “She then put a notice in a local newspaper, Navhind Times, saying I had abandoned my child and took no interest in her well-being.” This is the last, Sterry claims, to have seen his daughter. Ujjwala took Ksha and moved to Mumbai, but not to be with her parents, as she states, he alleges, but to live with her lover, a Bandra-based builder.
Sterry now claims that she is using her influence to harass him. In the last two weeks his PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card has been revoked, and there have been cops at his door. “The Foreigners Registration Office wanted me to go over and sign an undertaking that I would leave the country within 72 hours. My lawyers then told me to go in hiding since there were several public holidays coming up and I would not be able to file a petition challenging this order. The letter I received from New Delhi says that I am not conducive to public interest. Since when did Ujjwala, my wife, become public interest?”
Sterry, who has in the past collaborated with Guy Ritchie on the 2001 film, The Bunker, and also worked as personal assistant to star restaurateur Mourad Mazous of Sketch, London, says he decided to go public with his story as a last resort. “I need to see my daughter again, it’s breaking my heart to be without her.”
When contacted for her response to Sterry’s charges, Ujjwala Raut said, “If Maxwell is alleging abuse and intimidation, why is he sending you letters? Why is he not resorting to court procedures, which is how things should be? This matter is sub-judice. I don’t wish to comment on it. When the time comes, I myself will make an announcement,” and left it at that.