Censor Board Chief Leela Samson Quits in Row Over Film Starring Dera Leader

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Censor Board Chief Leela Samson Quits in Row Over Film Starring Dera Leader

File photo of Censor Board chief Leela Samson

New Delhi:  India's Censor Board chief Leela Samson has resigned amid a massive row over the film "MSG, the Messenger of God" starring controversial Dera Sachcha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, which has been cleared by a tribunal despite objections.
The Censor Board had found the film "not suitable for public viewing."

Ms Samson's allegation of "interference, coercion and corruption" appeared to be directed at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

"Recent cases of interference in the working of the (board) by the ministry, through an 'additional charge' CEO, and corrupt panel members has caused a degradation of values that the members of (the Censor Board) and Chairperson stood for," Ms Samson said in her resignation letter.

She has not specifically referred to the alleged clearance to the film, which features the Dera chief as a swashbuckling hero fighting social evils and performing miracles like a god.

After the Censor Board unanimously nixed its release, the ministry referred it to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which has only asked the producers to drop two words from the film.

On the film being cleared, Ms Samson told PTI: "It is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification."

A member of the Censor board, Nandini Sardesai, backed her allegations of corruption and said she was concerned that the film was cleared in haste.

"We all saw the movie. It was the collective decision of eight of us that the movie was not suitable for public viewing. Usually the Tribunal takes 15 to 30 days to clear a film, but this case was cleared within 24 hours," Ms Sardesai told NDTV.


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