Censor chief an ‘outsider'

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By Hindustan Times

The appointment of renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson, 59, as the new chief of the Central Board of Film Certification hasn’t gone down well with many industry insiders, sparking a debate on if a non-film figure is the right choice for the coveted position.

“A person with a film background should be the chief, because he/she knows the craft and the intricacies of the filmmaking much better than someone who is not from the industry. I am quite surprised by the announcement,” says film critic Taran Adarsh.

Even the outgoing Censor chief, Sharmila Tagore, has her brows raised. “Choosing a chairperson is the ministry’s prerogative. I wasn’t part of the selection process. This is certainly a break from tradition. Ms Samson is a high achiever and she will have my help if she so requires,” says Tagore.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, feels it’s a welcome change. “It is important to have an outside view to bring more objectivity,” he says.

Samson, who is head of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and Kalakshetra dance school, was competing against Bollywood biggies such as lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar, actor-activist Shabana Azmi and filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, for the title. After her appointment, she was quoted as saying, “My expertise is not in films but I think my role has to do with viewing cinema for its aesthetics.”