I-T raids on Mammootty, Mohanlal

Spicezee Bureau

Kochi: The Income Tax department, Friday, conducted sweeping raids on the offices and residences of Malayalam film superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal.

I-T sleuths knocked on their doors at 6.30 a.m. A team of 80 officials simultaneously verified records at their homes in Kochi and offices in Chennai, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram.

During the searches, a pair of elephant tusks was recovered from Mohanlal's home here, say income tax officials.

Both superstars have the same chartered accountant who has his head office in Thiruvananthapuram.

For Mammootty, the raid came a day after his son's engagement in Chennai. Sources close to him indicate he was supposed to have left for Kochi Friday morning.

Mohanlal is at a shooting location in the coastal town of Rameshweram in Tamil Nadu. He has interests in film production, distribution, IT education, the financial sector. Besides, he is an active player in the real estate sector along with his close friends.

Mohanlal has several business ventures. Besides owning Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments, a film distribution company and Vismayas Max, a film post-production studio, Mohanlal has also produced films under the banner Pranavam Arts.

Moreover, he owns many restaurants in Dubai, Kochi and Bangalore and is a partner in Mohanlal`s Tastebuds, a pickle and curry powder company.

The superstar is also said to have business interests in marine exports. Interestingly, there were reports that he alongwith film director Priyadarshan had tried to bid for the Kochi team in Indian Premier League cricket team based in Kochi.

Mammootty on other hand owns Playhouse Entertainments, a film distribution company. He is also the chairman of Malayalam TV channel Kairali TV.

Last week Kozhikode businessman KA Rauf, without naming anyone, said a Malayalam superstar and a business house in the state are engaged in a huge real estate deal in Maharashtra.

The I-T sleuths locked the homes from inside and no one was allowed to come in or go out as they prepared their report based on the superstars' I-T returns.

Reacting to the raids, another top Malayalam film star on condition of anonymity told reporters that it was a positive move. "Let the law be the same for all," the star told reporters.

The raids also come at a time when the two superstars, after nearly three decades in the industry, appear to be losing their iron grip, with most recent films bombing at the Box Office.

(With IANS inputs)