Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #260 - The Bollywood Malaise
Entertainment strings in the hands of the ideological and criminals can be a devastating weapon against a society. Recent events show that things are tightening. Is there a systemic malaise?
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery - a Sherlock Holmes Short Story
Entertainment is the greatest way to hold a population under your sway. That is why Roman emperors always used large entertainment shows as a way to send messages to their population in terms of how things were in the empire. Most recently, the CIA and the Department of Defense have had a significant role in the US screen industry. Satire and ridicule have been a great weapon and someone like poet-playwright Aristophanes used to ridicule the Athenian policy in the Peloponnesian War.
The French revolutionaries used entertainment to chip away at the moral legitimacy of the monarchy, aristocracy, and the Church.
That is why when your entertainment industry and the world is in control of something against the country, you should realize that there is something wrong very deep inside.
There have been a lot of actions recently and the accused have been making statements to show a tough face. But beyond those names, is there a systemic malaise?
Let us explore.
Narcotics and money laundering in Bollywood
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has filed an 11,700-page charge sheet connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR). It has been filed before a special court under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
The charge sheet names 33 as accused. The list includes Sushant Singh Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, and Kshitij Ravi Prasad, a former executive producer of Dharma Productions. Only 8 of the accused are currently in jail. The rest have been let off on bail already.
The charge sheet says that the Chakraborty siblings were involved in the procurement and financing of narcotic substances for SSR. Specific charges include financing and harboring an offender under the NDPS Act against the siblings. (Source)
Last week, the Income Tax department unearthed evidence of income discrepancy of Rs 650 crore.
Phantom Films shareholders are also suspected of involvement in alleged tax evasion of around Rs 600 crore. They allegedly carried out a stake sale and did not pay income tax from the money generated. Bogus expenditure and fake bills are believed to have been created by the production house. Anurag Kashyap, one of the shareholders is also alleged to have deleted data from the phone. According to the officials, "evidence of huge suppression of income by the leading Film Production house (Phantom films) compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed. The company officials have not been able to explain the discrepancy of around Rs 300 crore." (Source)
Raids were carried out against Taapsee Pannu, Phantom Films, Reliance Entertainment, Kwan Talent Management, and Exceed Entertainment for alleged tax evasion.
Recently, in February this year, just a few weeks back, there was news when Armaan Jain, Ranbir Kapoor’s cousin was summoned by Enforcement Directorate for a money laundering case.
Bollywood actor and Raj Kapoor's grandson Armaan Jain has landed in legal trouble. He recently got summoned by the enforcement directorate in a money laundering case related to Tops Grup that is being investigated by the agency after the officials raided his home in Mumbai where he lives with his wife Anissa Malhotra and mother Reema Jain and others. (Source)
Around the same time, Sachiin Joshi, an actor was arrested by ED for money laundering.
Actor and businessman Sachiin Joshi has recently landed into legal trouble as he gets arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering case involving Omkar realtors that the central agency is probing. According to reports, the actor was earlier summoned by the central investigation agency but he allegedly failed to produce himself in front of the officials following which he was brought to the ED office. Reports suggest that the film 'Aashiqui 2' actor was questioned for over 18 hours regarding his suspicious money transactions before placing him under arrest in connection with Rs 100 crores allegedly laundered by Omkar group promoters and the actor himself. (Source)
In 2017, South Indian superstar, Kamal Hassan shared the reason why he wasn’t seen in Bollywood movies anymore.
“I decided to come back to Tamil cinema because there were underworld connections in Bollywood. I didn’t want to either succumb to it, or oppose it. I had decided long back that I’d have nothing to do with black money. I’m a living proof of how you can stay untouched by it.” (Source)
One would imagine that someone like Kamal Hassan would know what he was talking about.
And, this has been going on for many years. No action is apparently taken even when notices are sent and damning calls are intercepted by the intelligence agencies sharing details of how even some superstars were being helped by the D-company for money laundering.
Money laundering and Bollywood over the years
In 2016, the publishing of Panama Papers showed that some of the biggest names were putting their money overseas for tax evasion. The papers had named Amitabh Bachchan, his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ajay Devgan among some 500 Indians with hidden overseas assets. (Source)
Preliminary examination of documents submitted by actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ajay Devgn and others named in Panama Papers has been completed. They will be questioned by ED before the end of this year. (Source)
That year - in 2016, the tax department also sent out at least 7 lakh notices in unaccounted high-value transactions cases. These included the biggest names of Bollywood.
Now, Shah Rukh Khan's alleged offshore investments is under scrutiny by the Income Tax department. "He has a right to reply and then action will be taken, it's a show-cause notice to explain his side of the case", said SR Wadhwa, former chief commissioner of Income Tax told India Today. (Source)
In September that year, intercepts of calls showed that D-company (Dawood Ibrahim) was helping a big Bollywood star and other “white collar” people in money laundering.
The latest Dawood Company intercepts have sent shock waves among top intelligence officials. Telephonic intercepts show that D-Company is roundtripping money for a top Bollywood superstar and some unidentified white-collar people of India. (Source)
India Today did not name the superstar but said “Documents accessed by India Today TV show that D-Company was engaged in converting black money into white for a Bollywood superstar, who has had a long stint in the film industry.“
Very interesting indeed.
Mode of money laundering
How does Bollywood convert its black money into white? There are many ways but some of them have been Shell Companies, investment in the movies with suspect expenses and funding, and round-tripping.
In August 2017, SEBI restricted the trading of 331 shell companies. These companies were owned by builders, brokers, and Bollywood entities.
Sebi had recently restricted share trading of 331 suspected 'shell' companies, but the Securities Appellate Tribunal had reversed the decision for some firms. Sebi, however, has been permitted to probe the suspected companies who could have violated securities laws, according to a PTI report. Sebi's investigation has the potential to open a can of worms as the nexus between builders, brokers and Bollywood entities is reportedly under scanner. A regulatory official described it as a "big black money bonhomie". (Source)
The Shell companies are not some small entities. Even large companies can act as Shell Companies.
A large number of companies having acted as 'shell firms' are linked to businesses like real estate, commodities and stock broking, films and television (including those on digital platforms), plantation and non-banking financial services, the officials said. "Another worrying trend is that several of these companies, including listed ones, could have helped launder money collected illegally by unlawful money-pooling schemes by groups already barred by one or other regulator," said one of the officials who didn't want to be named as investigations are underway. (Source)
Apart from the Shell companies, the money launderers also use the round-tripping method.
Round-tripping is a term used for the illegal act of converting black money into white by routing it to tax havens and then bringing it back to India. (Source)
In February 2010, there was a US cable that discussed the state of the Indian movie industry. It discussed how money laundering was done. (Source)
A sting operation conducted by Cobrapost and CNN IBN in 2012 has brought out how major Bollywood producers were agreeing to take in black money as investment for their movies.
Bollywood big guns Vashu Bhagnani, Anees Bazmee, and Anubhav Sinha were caught on camera admitting the fact that money laundering is rampant in the film industry, in a sting operation conducted by Cobrapost and CNN IBN that was aired on Tuesday. All three filmmakers were seen talking to undercover reporters posing as investors. The sting operators were seen persuading the film-makers to let them invest money in film productions in a way that would help them convert black money into white. (Source)
Anubhav Sinha, the Ra One director was assuming a 10-11% profit. If the investor put in Rs 5, Sinha assured of giving back Rs 6 at the end of one year.
Vashu Bhagnani was very specific and even wanted to give all-India distribution rights for his upcoming films!
Vashu Bhagnani, one of the biggest producers of Bollywood, who has made films such as Hero No. 1, Coolie No. 1, F. A. L. T. U and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, was seen saying, "The person needs to be genuine. We should not get caught by income tax officials." When the reporter insisted on investing Rs. 10 crore, Vashu said, "(Invest) Rs. 8 crore in cash and Rs. 2 crore by cheque... the paper work will be there only for the Rs. 2 crore." Vashu, in fact, made a further offer saying the 'investor' could buy the all-India distribution rights of his upcoming films for a sum of Rs. 100 crore. "On 13th, I'm starting Ajab Gazabb Love. There is Jackky (Bhagnani), Kiron Kher, Arshad Warsi and Arjun Rampal (in the film). For 100 crore, I'll give you rights for 18 films," he says. (Source)
There are many faceless investors in Bollywood who hold the purse strings. You never even see their names. As Sinha had explained in the sting.
"It mostly happens that people invest but their name doesn't come even on the posters of the film, so in your case also we should do something like that since you are so secretive," he says.
In 2015, an article in The Hindu had discussed how black money is turned into white in Bollywood.
The IT Act, 1961 provides for different sections and rules to impose tax on revenue sources of the industry. Sections 44AA, 44AB, and 285-B, Rules 9A and 9B for producers and distributors respectively, and the TDS provisions of Sections 192, 194 C and 194 J are also to be used when making payments to/for actors, directors, editors, special effects experts, logistics contractors, and recording and dubbing studios, among others. The report finds significant funding from hawala and hot-money routes, portending a grave threat to tax mobilisation, and even to general law and order. (Source)
Jagdish, a production assistant shared how a movie produced by Kumar Sanu named “Utthaan” was made only via cash.
“At the end of each day,” a production assistant says, “a vehicle filled with bags of cash would be delivered to not only workers and technicians, but also senior artists.”
The game, however, has become more sophisticated over the years. The situation is not just of money laundering and some crime anymore.
Interference of external adversaries of India
In recent years, there has been an inexplicable link of external forces - specifically the Chinese, Pakistanis, and the Khalistanis.
We had written about how Indian movies have suddenly become such big hits in China all of the sudden. (Issue #134 - Sudden Success of Bollywood Movies in China - An Analysis)
For example, in the past few years, these 10 Bollywood movies have been the greatest grosser in the Chinese market.
When we analyzed the figures, we saw something very interesting. Between Secret Superstar and Dangal - Aamir Khan as a producer - garnered 60% of all earnings in China from the top 10!
Now what is most interesting is that Aamir Khan's movie - Secret Superstar, and Ayushmann’s Andhadhun earned most of their money from China as opposed to any other country. In fact, Andhadhun’s Chinese earnings were close to 5 times the earnings from the rest of the planet, including India!
Let’s dive deeper now.
When you look at the collections for Andhadhun (his most successful movie to date), which got over 75% of its total global collections ONLY from China, you start wondering at the curious happenstance. (Source) Figures are in Rs crore.
Well, it can very well be argued that this could really be the legitimate popularity of a movie amongst the Chinese.
Dangal had its own interesting story.
Dangal, which was called a hit got over 61% of its earnings in just China! Secret Superstar got 83% earnings from China!
Does that sound strange? I mean, how many cinema screens were carrying that movie in China? More than India?
The film was shown on an estimated 4,300 screens in India and 1,000 screens internationally.
We also discussed how the stars who were seeing success in China, were also becoming vocal against the Modi government very suddenly.
Khalistanis and Pakistan
In our newsletter Issue #210 - Exposing Punjabi Entertainment Industry, we had shared the mess that the Punjabi film and entertainment industry had become. They are using the loose UK Corporate laws to launder money and create a number of shell companies, where who knows who is investing.
The central kingpin is Sundip Singh Khakh. And also Dinesh Auluck. But the biggest company in the Punjabi industry was dissolved after it was dormant! Aah, remember that?
It is strange isn’t it - that an organization that made it big with its Collaboration Album in 2006 featuring the greatest Punjabi singers in India and Pakistan - Sukhshinder Shinda, Gurdas Maan, Abrar Ul Haq, Jazzy B, etc - had a dormant flagship? And, even that was dissolved in 2014! Only to start it back again in 2020 with the same name, while its other variants were floating around. (Source)
Of course, the Pakistani forces work in many ways. They not just fund movies and dictate their narratives, scripts, the genre of songs, and casting; but they also control the promotional tours business. Recently, Rehan Siddiqui of Houston was blacklisted by the Indian Government. (Source)
He was a small-time radio channel host who started around the 1997-98 time-period. He suddenly increased his on-air presence and started doing radio 7 days a week and then had his own channel instead of renting time on another one. I had often wondered if his rise was funded by the ISI? He started promoting Bollywood shows as well and suddenly became one of the biggest promoters in the US.
We do have a problem with Bollywood. The issue is that the government needs to tighten things and take the probes to their logical ends. We cannot have situations where these people openly loot the country, conspire with the terrorists and adversary establishments while peddling their agenda in India and get away without anything.
market corner: 10 quick bytes
Government proposes to hike in LIC’s authorized capital to Rs 25,000 crore - more
Indian Oil Corporation may monetize hydrogen units to raise ₹10,000 crore - more
Post-pandemic reality: Ad rates go up by 10-15% for IPL's 14th edition - more
THE EPLANE COMPANY: Flying taxis for a roof-to-roof commute - more
Upcoming satellite to help India keep an eye on borders near real-time - more
Sony has filed a patent for a system that could turn bananas and other household items into PlayStation controllers - more
PMMY: PM Modi’s Mudra loan scheme disbursed 94% of the sanctioned amount to micro, small businesses - more
MFs selling spree continues; withdraw 16,306 cr from equities in Feb on profit booking - more
Amazon onboards 50,000 small sellers under the ‘Local Shops’ program for shopkeepers in less than a year - more
Public procurement: Modi govt’s purchases from women-owned small businesses hit a record level in FY21 - more
NUE Licenses: Reliance has reportedly signed up with Google and Facebook to set up a ‘new umbrella entity’ (NUE), which will be promoted by RIL and Infibeam Avenues’ So Hum Bharat. Infibeam Avenues’ currently runs the payments gateway CCAvenue. India’s central bank had floated the bid for NUE licenses in August 2020. The NUE license would enable the entity to hold pan-India control in payments, rivaling the likes of the government-backed National Payments Corporation of India. NPCI is an initiative backed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) which acts as an umbrella entity that operates retail payments and settlements. (Source)
Drugs from Pakistan to Sri Lanka caught: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ship 'Varaha' on Sunday seized three Sri Lankan fishing boats with narcotic onboard. As per the statement issued by the Defence spokesperson, the boats were sighted by the ICG while patrolling near the Lakshwadeep Islands, at around 9 am on March 5. When the boats were brought to the Vizhinjam harbor for rummaging and detailed joint interrogation by the concerned security agencies, the crew of Akarsha Duwa agreed that they had received around 200kg of heroin and 60 kg hashish from a Pakistani boat, 400 NM away west of Lakshwadeep Islands. (Source)
Satellite for Borders watch: After the successful launch of PSLV-C51 carrying Amazonia-1, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has said that it plans to launch another observation satellite - GISAT-1 - on March 28. The GISAT-1 is expected to provide near real-time images of India's borders and also enable quick monitoring of natural disasters. The observation satellite also aims to obtain spectral signatures of agriculture, forestry, mineralogy, disaster warning, cloud properties, snow and glacier, and oceanography and will facilitate near real-time observation of the Indian sub-continent, under cloud-free condition, at frequent intervals. According to sources, GISAT-1 will be followed by the maiden flight of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, ISRO's compact launcher, likely in April. SSLV has been designed to meet "launch on-demand" requirements in a cost-effective manner for small satellites in a dedicated and ride-share mode. (Source)
Sinicization of Mongolia: The Sinicization project has intensified under the Xi Jinping regime, and its effect is being seen everywhere, from Chinese-occupied Mongolia in the North to Tibet in the South. The Sinicization project means the eradication of all languages, cultures, religions, and traditions that are not Han Chinese, all in the name of national unity. The project is also going on in full swing in Inner Mongolia, the Chinese-occupied Mongolian region that borders Mongolia to the north. The region saw large-scale protests from locals there last year against a new directive aimed at reducing the use of the Mongolian language in the region. (Source)
video corner: Are there higher dimensions?
Are there higher or different dimensions? Are there different लोक as described in our scripture? Like the पाताल लोक?
Well it seems the scientists are looking at the existence of different dimensions.
An interview by Michio Kaku considering the conceptualizations we have for higher dimension shapes and laws of physics. How certain behavior would be familiar and other phenomena simply completely impossible to occur on our lower "dimension". Fascinating!!
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