I&B ministry orders inquiry after Tamil actor releases video of bribe-taking at CBFC
Tamil actor-producer Vishal Krishna Reddy alleged he had to pay a sum of ₹6.5 lakh to CBFC members in Mumbai to get his film cleared.
MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) has ordered an inquiry after Tamil actor-producer Vishal Krishna Reddy declared on social media that he had to pay a sum of ₹6.5 lakh to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) members in Mumbai to get his film cleared. The film, titled Mark Antony (Hindi), was released on September 28.
On Thursday, Reddy tweeted a video in which he addressed Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We had applied online to CBFC Mumbai,” he said. “Due to technical issues, we got delayed. On Monday, when my team members visited the CBFC office, they were asked to pay ₹6.5 lakh— ₹3 lakh for watching the film and ₹3.5 lakh to give a certificate on time. The deal was done by a lady called Menaka, who approached our team member. We have recorded everything.”
Reddy said Menaka told the team that she would have taken only ₹4 lakh, had they come for the certificate in time. “We had no option but to pay up, as much was at stake,” he said. “But we don’t want this to happen with young producers. I am sure that all producers must be facing it.”
What are on WhatsApp now. Click to join.
The actor said his team transferred the money to two bank accounts. “I am not showing a porn or adult film,” he said. “I am showing a film that has already been certified in the South in all four languages. So I don’t know how they have the guts to ask for money so openly.”
Reddy claimed that he paid not just to get a censor certificate but also to bring out the corruption in CBFC. “We paid the money but we created evidence in the form of recordings and by paying only by bank transfers,” he said. “We have done so many certifications but have never had to pay, apart from regular official charges. But it looks like this has been happening in Mumbai CBFC openly for a long time. The woman even claimed that she had to pay higher-ups from the money.”
The Indian Film and Television Directors Association has demanded a CBI inquiry, saying that this kind of extortion would bring a bad name to the CBFC. Abhay Sinha, president of the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, said the allegations were “alarming”. “Stringent measures need to be taken to end this kind of blatant corruption,” he said. “I am sure the government will see to it that producers are not victimised by unscrupulous elements in CBFC offices and that a prestigious organisation like CBFC is not maligned. We welcome any steps that will bring in transparency in the process of certification.”
A statement by the I&B ministry on Friday afternoon claimed that the government had “zero tolerance for corruption” and stringent action would be taken against anyone found involved in the episode. “A senior officer from the I&B ministry has been deputed to Mumbai to conduct an inquiry today itself,” said the statement, adding that anyone else harassed by CBFC should provide information at email@example.com.
Get Current Updates on India News, PM Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world