On Thursday, September 28, 2023, Tamil star Vishal Krishna, below, opened a Pandora’s box by releasing a video where he alleges that a staffer at the Central Board Of Film Certification in Mumbai asked him for Rs 650,000 before issuing a censor certificate for the Hindi version of his Tamil blockbuster Mark Antony.
Responding to the actor’s charge, the ministry of information and broadcasting posted on X that a senior I&B official was being deputed to Mumbai on Friday itself to conduct an inquiry.
“Sir, it was something I had to do not only for myself — I got my certificate to release Mark Antony in time for the release on Friday — but for all those producers before me and after me who face the same situation,” Vishal tells Subhash K Jha early on Friday morning.
“Imagine what the small producers in Mumbai have to go through! This is nothing but extortion. Does the government not know about it?”
Vishal recorded the voice of the lady allegedly representing the CBFC. She is heard asking for money on the CBFC’s behalf. The recording is in Tamil.
“After she asked my manager for money, I made him call the lady again, pretending to be negotiating,” explains Vishal. “But I actually wanted to record the conversation.”
Watch below: Actor Vishal Krishna charges a CBFC staffer in Mumbai with taking a bribe
“She says we would have been asked to pay less if we had approached CBFC Mumbai a few weeks earlier, and that we are being made to pay 6.5 lakhs in two instalments because we came so late for our Hindi certification,” says Vishal.
“Can you imagine, they actually have a rate card for producers, with the price varying according to how soon a film is submitted for certification,” exclaims Vishal.
Watch below: Former CBFC member Ashok Pandit calls for a CBI inquiry
“I had to pay up or else the Hindi version of Mark Antony would have been further delayed. I admit I did wrong. But a right can come out of the wrong if the government probes immediately into what was being whispered about the CBFC in Mumbai for a long time,” says Vishal, adding, “Please note Sir, this is only about the CBFC in Mumbai and not Chennai.”
Vishal, whose Mark Antony in Tamil is a blockbuster, says he has not been able to enjoy his film’s success.
“Earlier I was in court fighting a stay order against the film. Then I’ve been running around trying to get a certificate for the Hindi version. Now I’ve triggered a war against corrupt practices in the CBFC in Mumbai. This must stop.”
Describing the actor’s accusation as ‘extremely unfortunate’, the I&B ministry tweeted to say, ‘The government has zero tolerance for corruption and strictest action will be taken against anyone found involved.’
‘A senior officer from the ministry of information & broadcasting has been deputed to Mumbai to conduct an inquiry today itself,’ the I&B ministry tweeted.
‘We request everyone to cooperate with the ministry, by providing information about any other instance of harassment by CBFC at [email protected]’.
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