The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday ordered an immediate inquiry into Tamil actor Vishal’s allegations that he had to pay Rs 6.5 lakh to the CBFC’s Mumbai office for the screening and certification of the Hindi version of his film “Mark Antony”.
Vishal levelled the allegations of corruption against the Mumbai office of CBFC in a post on microblogging site X on Thursday, reports PTI.
In a post on Friday, the ministry said the government had zero tolerance for corruption.
"The issue of corruption in CBFC brought forth by actor @VishalKOfficial is extremely unfortunate. 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 on Friday.
The ministry also urged people to cooperate and share information about "any other instance of harassment by CBFC".
Taking serious note of corruption allegations in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Union Information and Broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur directed officials to swiftly implement measures to enhance transparency and accountability in the administration of the board, reports PTI.
A senior official said Thakur directed Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra to ensure maximum utilisation of technology and the rolling out of a faceless system on the lines of the Income Tax Office for slotting of films to be scheduled for screening for certification officials.
The official said Thakur wants the CBFC to speed up creating a transparent mechanism for faster certification of films in urgent cases and further strengthen the oversight measures.
The minister has sought an action-taken report on the matter by October 16.
Vishal's sci-fi film "Mark Antony", directed by Adhik Ravichandran, was released in Hindi on Thursday. The movie also features S J Suryah, Ritu Varma, Sunil, Selvaraghavan and Abhinaya.
In his post on X, Vishal made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to investigate the "scam" that transpired at the CBFC's Mumbai office.
"Due to some technical issues, we applied for the Hindi censor certificate online at the last minute. But we were taken aback by what happened at the CBFC office in Mumbai.
"On Monday, when my person visited the office, there was an option given to us -- to pay Rs. 6.5 lakh for the certification the same day. We were left with no other option. We were asked to pay Rs 3 lakhs first, just for the screening. The rest Rs 3.5 lakh were for the certificate," the actor had claimed.
Vishal also claimed that a woman official told their team that it was a common practice at the CBFC where filmmakers would pay money for receiving censor clearance.
"Those who want the certificate in 15 days, they have to pay Rs 4 lakh. We had no other option, so we paid the money in two instalments and I got the certificate. Today, my film was released in north India. But this is very saddening.
"If this is the case in government offices, I really request higher authorities to look into this matter," the actor claimed.
In a statement, Indian Film and Television Directors' Assocation (IFTDA) expressed concern over the allegations made against CBFC officials and demanded a CBI enquiry.
"If any official is found guilty serious action should be taken against the perpetrator of this crime of extortion... This is a dangerous trend which will be the reason for bringing bad name to CBFC," IFTDA president Ashoke Pandit wrote in a letter to Thakur.