Kolkata, Jan 25 (IANS) A day after he was arrested by CBI in the Rose Valley ponzi scam, the BJP on Friday hinted at Bengali film producer Shrikant Mohta’s proximity with the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, saying he used his “political contacts” to establish a stranglehold on the Bengali film industry to run his business.
Alleging that Mohta’s SVF Entertainment – a Kolkata-headquartered entertainment company that produces and distributes films – had contract with 250 film auditoriums where only celluloid ventures by his firm were screened, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said “he and his people controlled the remaining auditoria also”.
“His writ ran in the Bengali film industry. Mohta and some other brothers of ‘didimoni’ (an apparent allusion to Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee) are looting the studios at Tollygunge (area in South Kolkata where most Bengali film studios are located),” said Ghosh.
The BJP leader alleged that if any filmmaker went for shooting abroad, he had to accommodate additional people. One film shooting had to be stalled as five-seven people did not get their visa.
“If anybody came to Bengal from the Mumbai film industry, he had to take technicians, instruments and even other personnel from people like Mohta. Else, the shooting used to be scrapped. Even if there was no work for these technicians or other personnel, they had to be paid.”
“One wouldn’t get any work in the Bengali film industry if he was not a member of the Trinamool union in the industry. Many personalities from the local film industry, who had crossed over to the BJP, now keep mum or maintain a distance form us because of the threats issued by the local film mafia,” said Ghosh.
The BJP leader said so far it was a big question how Mohta carried on in this way.
“Now the mystery had been unravelled. He had taken a loan of Rs 25 lakh to make a film, but did not make it. Instead, he utilised the money to buy didimoni’s paintings. Now we also know how he became close to ‘didimoni’. He not only brought the paintings, but influenced and forced investors to buy her paintings, said Ghosh.
BJP state Mahila Morcha president and Bengali actress Locket Chatterjee said: “The first wicket of the Tollywood (Bengali film industry, as most studios are located in Tollygunge) syndicate has fallen. For the past few years these people have ruined Tollywood.
“This producer has over the past few years used his political contacts to force artists to come under the umbrella of a particular political party under threat, else they won’t get work.
“Artists who wanted to maintain their independent political standpoint, didn’t get jobs,” said Chatterjee.
Meanwhile, in a statement after his arrest on Thursday, SVF Entertainment “strongly and categorically” denied and objected to any accusations against Mohta, and claimed that he had appeared before the CBI twice in the past as a witness and “fully cooperated” with the investigation
“However, on account of personal reasons, he was not able to appear before CBI in January. This was communicated to CBI with a request to grant him 15 days,” the statement said.