Television

Kher sends legal notice to Left leader Surjeet

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NEW DELHI: The controversies that the Indian censor board is curremtly raking up is itself creating enough drama that could provide fodder for a short film.



A day after Central Board of Film Certification chief Anupam Kher was unceremoniously sacked by the government following pressure from the Left parties, the man in the eye of storm said he had sent a legal notice to Marxist leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet for labeling him an RSS (right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party's parent organisation) appointee.



At a press conference in the capital today, Kher said he would continue to attend office as he had not received any (written) order removing him from his post, the United News of India reported.



An order issued by the information and broadcasting ministry yesterday had merely announced the appointment of veteran actress Sharmila Tagore as the new Censor Board chairperson, making no mention of his name, he said.



According to Kher, his lawyers had sent a copy of the legal notice to information & broadcasting minister S Jaipal Reddy.



Veteran Marxist leader Surjeet, in an article in the Communist Party Marxist's mouthpiece 'People's Democracy' had stressed the need for de-toxifying the government and several organisations of right-wing sympathizers. Kher contended that this implied that he (Kher) was an ''RSS man".'



"This is too dangerous and grossly erroneous, since I cannot by any standard be linked to any political ideology,'' the news agency quoted Kher as saying.



Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has taken strong exception to the government's removal of Kher from his post and termed the move one more indication of the mindset of an ''intolerant vengeful regime''.



According to BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley, posts like that of censor board chairman were not political appointments like the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission whose term was co-terminus with the government. ''Mr Kher is an eminent actor and had occupied the seat on the censor board on his own strength and it would be a wrong step to seek his resignation and set a wrong trend,'' he opined.



DD SEEKS 'QUESTIONABLE' CHANGES IN FILM



Even as the Kher controversy is creating ripples in the media and has had the government running for cover, objections raised by pubcaster Doordarshan relating to the telecast of a film on the life of the late Jai Prakash Narayan (whose birth anniversary was on 11 October) is being questioned by the film-maker, Prakash Jha.



Speaking to indiantelevision.com, Jha said that DD has raised "silly objections" on the film on "JP" and that he would not like to "compromise his artistic position" on such issues.



Doordarshan had blocked the telecast of the film on the pretext that several inaccuracies abounded in the film, which also dwells on the events around the Emergency imposed by the then government (led by Congress leader and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi).



Jha also indicated that since the Congress is back in power, DD, despite being an autonomous organisation, is trying to please its political bosses.



The film, Lok Nayak, was commissioned by the culture ministry at a cost of Rs 9 million. Prasar Bharati, which manages DD, raised objections to the "one-sided'' views on the emergency shown in the film.



A letter, a copy of which is available with indiantelevision.com, written by a DD official to persons concerned with the film, including Jha, raises the following points:



* The latter part of the film (these dwell on the period of Emergency, which has been severely criticized by most political parties of the country) does not portray a balanced presentation of events of those times, and in view of the sensitivities involved the programme needs modifications.



* The map of India shown in the beginning does not show the geographical boundaries of undivided India correctly.



* Audio in the following frames needs to be edited.

a. Tanashahi Ka Shikar Hua.

b. Indira Hatao Slogan.

c. Sanjay Gandhi had a motive.

d. Jail Mein Kyon Maren, Bahar Maren.

e. Tanashahiwala Rajya Nahi Chalega.

f. Indira Ji Ne JP Ke Sath Jo Zyadati Ki.

g. The last portion of Sh. Devasahayam byte need to be

deleted.



* The need to impose emergency and counterpoint should also brought out.

* Opinionated views need to be balanced with views from all political shades.

* Recollections of those in close touch with JP like Dr JK Jain who was his personal physician for 40 years will enhance our understanding.

* Longish scene of Hazaribagh Jail escape and Diwali celebrations are over dramatized and need to be curtailed.

* Credit caption of the Ministry of Culture, which has funded the project, should come in the beginning along with the credits of producer and Prasar Bharati.



The letter further states that since the department of culture was not represented at several preview shows, a VHS copy of the film was being sent with this letter with the expectation that the department's "opinion and comments for final approval" would be sent before 1 November, 2004.

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