The Income Tax Department is conducting raids at the properties of film director Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Madhu Mantena and actress Taapsee Pannu today.
The I-T searches are in connection with Kashyap’s Phantom Films, which was dissolved in 2018. Searches are also underway at several locations in Mumbai, including the properties of Shibhashish Sarkar(CEO Reliance Entertainment)
Afsar Zaidi (CEO Exceed), Vijay Subramaniam (CEO Kwan). Exceed Entertainment and Kwan Entertainment are Mumbai’s popular celebrity management agencies.
Charges of tax evasion have been brought against the now-dissolved film production company. Searches, which began on Wednesday morning, are being conducted at the offices of these agencies and residences of the people associated.
Commenting on the ongoing raids, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the agencies only go after those against whom they have credible information. “The matter later goes to court,” the minister said. Both Anurag and Taapsee are known to be vocal about their criticism of the government.
Some news reports suggested that I-T department raids were underway at locations in Pune too. Details of these searches were not immediately clear.
Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, producer, Madhu Mantena, and Vikas Bahl came together to found film production company, Phantom Films, in Mumbai in 2011. In March 2015, Reliance Entertainment procured 50 per cent stake in the company. After a series of movies comprising both hits and misses, the company was dissolved in 2018 facing a sexual assault allegation on Vikas Bahl, brought by a former employee of Phantom. In its seven years of operation, Phantom Films worked with several top Bollywood actors, directors, co-producer. Taapsee Pannu worked with Phantom Films in 2018’s Manmarziyaan.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Madhu Mantena bought the shares of Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikas Bahl in a bid to revive the company. Each of the three held 12.5 per cent shares in the company. This deal converted Phantom Films into Mad Man Venture, a new company in a joint venture between Madhu Mantena and Reliance Entertainment with both holding 50 per cent stake in the present company.
Pannu and Kashyap have been outspoken critics of the central government including on the issue of the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three contentious farm reform laws. Pannu had criticized social media solidarity posts by other celebrities which carried hashtags “#IndiaTogether” and “#IndiaAgainstPorpaganda” – similar to those used by the government in its statement. The celebrities had put out these tweets following Barbadian singer Rihanna’s tweet drawing attention to the farmers’ protest.
“If one tweet rattles your unity, one joke rattles your faith or one show rattles your religious belief then it’s you who has to work on strengthening your value system not become ‘propaganda teacher’ for others,” Pannu had tweeted.