The 40-year-old actor was not at his office in Chennai when the I-T team arrived. He said later, "I am honest and tax compliant. I shall face it. I'm yet to get complete details."
He also said, "Even if it is vendetta I shall face it". Asked whether he thinks there is a link between the income tax visit and his taking on a leader of the BJP, which rules at the Centre, Vishal said, "I don't think so. Did I threaten him?"
As word spread about taxmen at Vishal's office, the Directorate General of Goods and Service Tax Intelligence (DGGSTI) denied media reports that it had raided the actor's office. "It is to clarify that the officers of DGGSTI have not conducted any such search operations and the news which is being circulated is factually incorrect and false," Joint Director of DGGSTI PVK Rajasekhar said in a press release.
Amid demands by BJP leaders for the removal of dialogues that mock new national tax GST in Mersal, the party's H Raja had told reporters on the weekend that he has watched the film, released on Diwali last week, online.
Vishal, who heads the Film Producers Council and is the General Secretary of the South Indian Artistes' Association, hit out at the politician, saying in a strong statement, "A national leader of a national party has just confessed to watching a newly released film not in the theatre, but illegally. Being a leader who is known by the public, how can you support piracy without any shame?"
H Raja later clarified, "I only watched a clip that was forwarded via WhatsApp and I never forwarded it".
The BJP leader drew flak yesterday for posting on Twitter a photo of Mersel actor Vijay's voter ID card and official letterhead, to show that he is a Christian. Mr Raja has alleged that Mersel exposes Vijay's "hatred" for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mersel stars Vijay in a triple role, with one of the characters he plays talking about GST in a scene that the BJP wants edited. The party's Tamil Nadu spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi called it information that "is factually incorrect and would defame the country". Other BJP leaders, including state BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan and union minister Pon Radhakrishnan too have pressed for cuts.
Though the film certification board has cleared Mersal, the producers indicated that they are willing to make cuts if required. The film has already become a superhit grossing 150 crore in a week from around the world.