Some time back, Instagram handle Diet Sabya had accused TFM 360, a model management agency owned by designer Ashish N Soni, of non-payment of dues to its models. In a video posted on social media some models can be seen talking about how the agency never paid their dues. As per the social media page, TFM has withheld fees of a number of artistes since 2018.
Speaking to mid-day, one of the models Arlette Grao said that the agency owes over Rs 70 lakh to its over 30 models. Arlette had worked with TFM from February 2016 to August 2018. "Things turned sour in late 2018 because I did not receive a penny despite having worked through the year. I have bank statements to support my claims. It was only when I started freelancing that I realised the company hasn't paid money to a number of models", Arlette said.
In November 2018, Arlette had sent TFM a legal notice, accusing them of defaulting on payment of Rs 8 lakh, a sum she earned over her over two-year stint.
"TFM cited a breach of contract as the reason for non-payment of dues. However, I have not breached any clause and I got to know the agency has levelled similar accusations on other models too. Donald Simrock [make-up artist] was part of the Lakme Fashion Week two years ago; the agency owes him Rs 20 lakh.Arlette Grao to Mid-Day
Arlette added that she sent two more notices to TFM, the last one being in February 2020. During the lockdown, aggrieved models reached out to Diet Sabya and the post went viral. "We will seek legal recourse. I last tried to communicate to Ashish Soni on 17 September but he did not reply. After Diet Sabya's post, he blocked us", Arlette told the publication.
Ashish Soni, on the other hand, told mid-day that the company has been incurring losses since its inception five years back. "Responding to Arlette's notice, we served her a show-cause notice because of breach of contract. I am not the only person in charge of the agency. TFM was set up five years back and it never made money. The foreign partner (parent brand) wanted to exit and at that time I had 40 per cent stake. They wanted to shut it down but I took on their debt and ensured that the models' income stays afloat. I haven't drawn any salary from the company. Added to that, TFM has been badly affected post COVID-19. I am willing to open this matter up for audit and we have every intention to pay the pending amounts as and when money comes in", Soni said.
Arlette has claimed that she responded to TFM's notice but never heard back from them.