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After criticism, Ambika Soni defends choice of non-'filmi' censor chief

The choice has been criticised as Samson, a classical dancer, is not known to have a keen interest in films.

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After criticism, Ambika Soni defends choice of non-'filmi' censor chief
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Information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Ambika Soni defended on Friday the appointment of Kalakshetra director and Sangeet Natak Akademi chairperson Leela Samson as censor board chief.

The choice has been criticised as Samson, a classical dancer, is not known to have a keen interest in films. Her own admission that she “hardly watched” films has not help matters, either, with South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, the apex body representing the film industries of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, shooting off a letter to the I&B minister to reconsider her decision.

Soni said she wanted someone “firmly entrenched” in Indian culture to lead the board. An outsider would ensure a freer and unbiased evaluation of films, she said.

“When the person is from the film world, s/he tends to know everyone in the field. So, cutting [parts of the film] is difficult,” Soni said.

Soon after her appointment, Samson had said that “films have to be socially responsible”. While some item songs were “fun”, she said, films should be such that both grandfather and grandson should be able to watch them together.

However, members of the film industry were cautious and insisted Samson is given some time before any judgement is passed on her.

Filmmaker Kunal Kohli said, “It isn’t important if the censor board chief is from the film industry or not. The fact that she comes from outside the line of making films might actually bring in a fresh perspective but she should know what’s happening in cinema around the world.”

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