Censor Board chief Leela Samson quits over MSG row

Leela Samson the Censor Board chief has resigned. The reason for this sudden resignation has not been stated clearly. Speculations are being made that it concerns the release of the movie ‘Messenger of God’. This film stars Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Dera Saccha Sauda chief, in the lead role. MSG was formerly refused permission for release by the board.  The chief of the board stated, “This film is not fit for public viewing”. Following which, an appeal was made to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. It has still not been confirmed if the FCAT has given this film clearance for release, as no official statement has been made yet.

Leela Samson, who is a Bharatnatyam danseuse, completed her three year term as chief in April, 2014. As the Modi Government has not yet appointed a new chief, she continued to preside over the censor board. The other members of the board had also been asked to continue in their respective posts till further announcements were made. The notice extending their term was issued in July, 2014.

Regarding MSG’s release Leela said, “The Central Board of Film Certification is being ridiculed.” She further added, “I have heard that ‘Messenger of God’ has received approval even though no written statement has been made.” The allegations made by Samson are, “The values for which the Board and its Chairperson stand for are being degraded. The additional charge CEO, appointed by the new government and corrupted members of the Board are interfering with all the decisions of the Board.”

These allegations might be directed towards the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. “I have submitted my resignation to the I & B Ministry” commented Samson, when asked about her decision. Rajyavardhan Rathore, the junior minister of I & B Ministry said, “The Tribunal makes the final call and its decisions should be respected.” He added, “The Censor Board is an independent body. The claims of coercion being made should be backed by solid proof like an SMS or letter.”       

The movie ‘Messenger of God’ has still not appeared on any release and booking lists. The blockbuster movie PK also created a similar controversy close to the end of 2014. Members of the Sangh Parivar have been pressuring the board to remove scenes from this Amir Khan starrer. “PK is now out for public viewing and can no longer be changed. Even if any religious sentiments are hurt, the effort put into making this creative movie cannot be modified”, said Ms. Samson.