The Income Tax department on Wednesday conducted raids at the properties of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, producer Vikas Bahl, producer-distributor Madhu Mantena, and actor Taapsee Pannu in Mumbai and Pune, reported ANI.
As per The Hindu, the raids were a part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films, which was launched by Kashyap but dissolved in 2018. Bahl and Mantena were the co-promoters of Phantom Films.
An official reason for the raids at Pannu’s properties has not been disclosed yet.
According to Hindustan Times, the Income Tax department is searching over 30 locations in Mumbai and Pune linked to the Hindi film industry celebrities. The houses of some executives of celebrity and talent management company KWAN are also being raided.
Times Now reported on Thursday that the raids have been resumed at the same places. The channel mentioned that phones and laptops of Pannu, Kashyap, Bahl, Mantena, and their managers have been seized. The raids have stalled the shooting schedule of Pannu in Pune, as they are still being interrogated. Pannu in February started shooting for Kashyap’s film Dobaaraa.
Sources in the Income Tax department told Times Now that notices had been served last month to actors, director and producers who had worked with Phantom Films.
Kashyap, Motwane, Mantena, and Bahl launched Phantom Films in 2011. In March 2015, Reliance Entertainment bought a 50% stake in the company. However, after Bahl was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the production company in 2018, the company was dissolved. Three years later, Mantena bought the shares of the other three. Currently, the production house is a joint venture between Mantena’s new firm, Mad Man Ventures, and Reliance Entertainment, with both parties holding 50% stake each.
While Pannu and others are yet to comment on the raids, the situation didn’t go down well with some political leaders, members of the film industry, and Twitterati.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra denounced the action and wrote on Twitter, “Bollywood that crawls when asked to bend given Y+ security. Bollywood that stands straight with farmers raided by IT.”
Actor Swara Bhasker also took to Twitter and wrote an “appreciation post” for Pannu calling her “an amazing girl with courage and conviction that is rare to see”. She also tweeted along similar lines for Kashyap.
Appreciation tweet for @anuragkashyap72 who has been a cinematic trailblazer, a teacher and mentor of talent and a man
With rare candour and a brave heart ! More power to you Anurag ❤️
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) March 3, 2021
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took to the micro-blogging site to hit back at the Centre and wrote in a tweet in Hindi, “Some Idioms: ‘Ungaliyon par nachaana’ – Central government does this with IT Dept-ED-CBI. ‘Bheegee billee banana’ – friendly media in front of the central government. ‘khisiyaanee billee khamba noche’ – like the central government makes a raid on the supporters of the farmer.”
However, commenting on the ongoing raids, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the agencies only go after those against whom they have credible information. “The matter later goes to court,” he said in a press meet.
Both Pannu and Kashyap have earlier stood in solidarity with the ongoing farmers’ protest.