Samson needs to look before amendements to Cinematograph Act head to cabinet

NEW DELHI: The amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952 proposed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will be placed before the Union Cabinet as soon as the newly appointed noted Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification and eminent Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson has seen the proposals with regard to film censorship and certification.

I&B Minister Ambika Soni stated this when it was pointed out by a news person that the Censorship Guidelines had last been revised on 6 December 1991.

The Minister said the proposed amendments had already been seen by Sharmila Tagore, whom Samson has succeeded.

Soni said that it had generally been felt that no head of the CBFC should be in office for more than two terms of three years each, though she admitted there was no hard and fast rule for this. She said Tagore had been in office for a little over six years.

The Minister was speaking at an informal get-together to introduce Samson to the media.

I&B Secretary Raghu Menon pointed out that the CBFC comprised around 12 to 25 members and was headed by the Chairperson. There were nine regional Film Certification Advisory panels. Every film submitted for certification was first submitted to one of these Panels, which formed an Examining Committee.

In the case of a producer not been satisfied, the Chairperson could set up a Revising Committee chaired by her where those who had sat in the Examining Committee will not be present. If dissatisfied, the producer could then approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which is now headed by noted Delhi-based lawyer Lalit Bhasin.

Soni said around 25 to 30 members were considered for the post of the Chairperson of the CBFC, which was not a full-time post and was an honorary designation. She said many of the film personalities approached had turned down the offer on the ground that there may be conflict of interest or that they were known to all in the film world and could, therefore, not make objective assessments.

However, Soni stressed that film industry representatives like Tagore, Amol Palekar, Asha Parekh and Anupam Kher had been fair in their judgments.

She said previous Chairpersons had also included a Brigadier, and Indian Administrative Service Officers, but she felt that only people who had something to do with culture or cinema should hold the post. Previous chairpersons have also included eight persons from the Films Division.

She said the Ministry had ensured that at least 40 per cent in each of the regional panels should be women, and there should be representation from the minorities.

Samson said in answer to a question that she did not feel all item songs were vulgar, and some were good fun. She denied that she did not see films, and said she was an avid film buff although she could not recall the last film she had seen.

She said the filmmaker must have creative freedom, but he has to be socially responsible. Cinema has a huge impact on the people in the country, and filmmakers cannot forget that.

Child abuse and animal abuse were also real issues that a Certification Board should tackle.

She felt that she could give adequate time to the CBFC, the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Kalakshetra - she heads all three – as film certification was not a full-time occupation and she did not have to see every film.

Samson, who is also a choreographer, instructor and writer, is also the Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music Dance and Drama.

The appointment of Samson is in an honorary capacity from 1 April 2011 for a period of three years.

As a soloist, Samson has been known for her technical virtuosity, and taught Bharatnatyam at Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra in Delhi for many years. She is the Director of Kalakshetra, the institute for the classical arts founded by the Late Rukmini Devi Arundale. She has been awarded the Padma Shree for her contribution in the field of arts.

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