Real estate has always been the preferred choice for Bollywood biggies to invest their big bucks in. In a recent high-value transaction, actor Abhishek Bachchan booked a luxury apartment in an upcoming Worli project for Rs 41.14 crore. The rate works out to Rs 1.06 lakh a sq ft for the 3,875 sq ft flat. The apartment is on the 37th floor of Skylark Towers in the prime Annie Besant Road area of Worli. The five-bedroom house includes a family room, dining and living rooms, wet and dry kitchens and 20 feet terraces on all sides. This is one of the few projects in the city where authorities have sanctioned such unusually large terraces. Skylark comprises two wings, each 67 floors high. They are built by Oasis Realty, a joint venture between developer Vikas Oberoi and dance bar owner-turned-realtor Sudhakar Shetty. Documents made available to this newspaper show that the stamp duty amount for Abhishek's apartment itself works out to Rs 2.05 crore. A separate club house membership fee of Rs 25 lakh and development charges of Rs 35 lakh are also part of the sale agreement.
Many others in the film industry, like actor Hrithik Roshan and his father Rakesh, are also big investors in property. Last year, they pumped in Rs 70 crore to develop a plot off Andheri Link Road. The 3,000 sq m plot near Infiniti mall will be used to build a 26-storey high-end residential tower in a joint venture with a local developer. About a year ago, Hrithik moved into a 3,600 sq ft apartment in Prime Beach building near the Hare Krishna temple at Juhu. He has taken the flat on leave and licence and is paying a monthly rent of Rs 6.5 lakh. Akshay Kumar also has a flat in Prime Beach. In July last, actor Shahid Kapoor paid Rs 30 crore for a sprawling apartment with a garden in Pranita building on Juhu Tara Road. Actor Vidya Balan too has a flat in this building, reportedly purchased for a similar amount. Actor Emran Hashmi is believed to have shelled out Rs 15 crore for an apartment on Pali Hill a year ago. Saif Ali Khan and wife Kareena bought a penthouse for Rs 23.50 crore in Satguru Sharan building in Khar (West) two years ago.
Last year, actor Aamir Khan was embroiled in a controversy with some members of a Pali Hill housing society. He had offered to redevelop the society and use part of the property to build his bungalow. However, a mother-daughter duo opposed the plan and the actor then withdrew the offer. Some stars are also believed to have pumped money into slum rehabilitation projects in the western suburbs. A building industry source said film personalities prefer to pay by cheque. "There is no cash component at all, unlike the earlier days," he said. Property market and film industry sources said film celebrities invest in residential and commercial projects or buy sprawling penthouses, row houses and bungalows for personal use. The preferred locations are in the suburbs between Bandra and Andheri. In an interview to this newspaper in 2011, actor John Abraham had said, "I am very passionate about land. It is better than investing in the stock market. Even if there is a correction in land prices, the maximum it goes down is by about 20-30%." John owns two buildings in Bandra and Khar. He bought a plot opposite Petit Girls High School at Union Park for Rs 22 crore in mid-2009.