'Leela Samson resignation a big problem, needs to be fixed'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 16, 2015 15:29 IST

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is at the centre of controversy again, this time over the resignation of its chairperson, Leela Samson. She resigned citing "interference, coercion and corruption of panel members" as the reasons for quitting.

Reports suggest that Samson, who was serving as the chief on an extension till the government appointed a new chief, finally decided to put in her papers on Friday, after the film Messenger of God (MSG) featuring Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was cleared by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).

Her resignation has evoked strong reactions from the film industry, and many seem to agree with Leela's allegations of 'interference by members appointed by the government'.

"I don't know whether the corruption charges are true ... but I'd like to make an appeal to (I&B minister) Arun Jaitley - when he follows a system of liberal values and freedom of speech, his ministry should also be reflective of that," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

Award-winning filmmaker Onir says, "I hope her resignation brings about a positive change. She has a lot of respect in the industry and her resignation explains the hypocritical approach that the censor board has. It does come as a shock, but I hope filmmakers are not harassed anymore."

Mary Kom director Umang Kumar supports Samson's step. "If she took a stand, there must be a reason. After all, she was put in that position because she was considered capable of using her discretion wisely."

On the other hand, some are happy that freedom of expression was chosen over Samson's stand. Filmmaker Pritish Nandy says, "I believe that freedom of expression is paramount, and if a film has been passed - be it because of corruption or pressure, I'm all for celebrating it."

Industry Speak
The chairperson of the censor board is a decorative position. They have no say in the certification.
--Hansal Mehta
If the chairperson of the board has resigned, I think it is a very big problem and needs to be fixed.
--Mahesh Bhatt
CBFC is not an autonomous body. There are a lot of political appointees involved.
--Anurag Kashyap
I believe in freedom of speech. If a film is passed - be it because of corruption or political pressure, I'm all for it.
--Pritish Nandy

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Messenger of God row: A farce called film certification
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