India, July 11 -- A sting operation was recently conducted by a leading news channel on various top Bollywood personalities to find out if Bollywood still relies on black money from unknown investors to fund its projects. Needless to say the results were quite shocking and an eye-opener for sure. The sting operation was conducted on top filmmakers like Vashu Bhagnani, Anees Bazmee and Anubhav Sinha amongst others.
Vashu was caught on camera telling the reporter who posed as an investor, "I have many ways to convert black money into white. But I need to be sure that the person is genuine. We shouldn't be caught by Income-Tax officials."
When the proposed investor told Vashu that he had around Rs. 10 crores to invest, Vashu told him to give Rs. 8 crore in cash and Rs. 2 crores in cheque stating clearly that the paper-work will be done only for Rs. 2 crore.
The investor would be given distribution rights of Vashu's film and will get to keep the first 20% of profit and any profit over and above would be shared 50-50 between Vashu and the investor. This way his black money is invested and in return he gets white money.
Anees Bazmee too seemed more than happy when a (fake) investor approached him with the idea of investing some money in his films.
Anees was quoted as saying, "No problem, you can give me as much cash as you want. We will rope in a corporate as well easily. For a signing amount of Rs. 5 crore, I will take 4 crore in cash and 1 crore cheque."
Anubhav Sinha, who directed Ra.One, was caught on camera saying, "Many people invest their money in a film but their name is kept a secret. Their names are never published in any posters or any publicity material."
The sting operation didn't just target producers and directors but also actors.
Payal Rohatgi and her boyfriend Sangram when approached by a (fake) producer to act in their film demanded a fee of Rs. 30 lakh each.
The duo however clearly stated that they would want Rs. 25 lakh in cash and Rs. 5 lakh in cheque.
Similarly actress Aarti Chabria's parents too were caught on camera telling a (fake) producer that they always take 50% payment in cash and the balance 50% via cheque.
While this is certainly an eye-opener of the amount of laundering of black money prevalent in Bollywood, industry people still feel this is not how the whole scenario is.
Veteran Mukesh Bhatt who was one of the panelists on the TV show said, "With corporatisation seeping in, the extent of Black Money has reduced drastically. It was rampant initially in the olden days when the industry had to face heave taxation etc. but now with tax laws easing out, there is no need for us to depend on black money of any kind. Transparency is the need of the hour."
One thing is certain this sting operation has certainly shaken up industry bigwigs and once again raised a question on whether Bollywood is still run in an unorganised way.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.