Censor Board's threat of snipping item songs apparently prompted some top film producers to cough up bribe to Board CEO Rakesh Kumar who was arrested by CBI on Monday under graft charges.
Agency sources said during the examination of Kumar and two others including an agent and an advisory panel member of the Central Board of Film Certification, it surfaced that some top names in the Bollywood had apparently paid money to get their movies cleared in time.
CBI is independently verifying whether these claims are correct and carry any evidentiary value, the sources said.
"The common threat was to chop off item songs. Besides, clearance was delayed till last moment which made producers frantic and cough out illegal gratification to get the certificate. Not releasing movies on time can result in huge damages," a senior official said here on the condition of anonymity.
During the questioning of the three accused it emerged that producers of several recently released movies, in which top of the line stars were screened, were among those who had to pay to get their films cleared with item songs, the sources said.
The agency had arrested Kumar from Mumbai yesterday for allegedly demanding Rs 70,000 as bribe for clearing a regional movie from Chhattisgarh. He was produced before the Special CBI court in Mumbai which sent him to three-day CBI remand for further questioning.
The sources said the present case deals only with the Chhattisgarh movie as no other producer or director of Bollywood has come forward with any complaint against Kumar.
The agency had searched his house on Thursday and arrested agent Shripati Mishra and advisory panel member of the Censor Board Sarvesh Jaiswal.
They were caught while taking the alleged bribe on Kumar's behalf, the sources said.
They said an authorised agent for censor certification had approached CBI alleging that Mishra had been demanding Rs 70,000 on behalf of Kumar for issuing the censor certificate for regional language film from Chhattisgarh "Mor Dauki Ke Bihav".
An Indian Railways Personnel Officer, Kumar joined as CEO of CBFC in January.
The sources said producers of the film had wanted an urgent certificate as the date of the release of the movie was on August 15.
Kumar used to demand Rs 1.5 lakh for screening a film
The CBI today said that all the movies cleared by the Censor Board CEO Rakesh Kumar, arrested in a bribery case, are under the scanner, even as a local court remanded him in CBI