Soni defends dancer as Film Censor

Senior Congress leader and Information & Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni has defended her appointment of Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson to chair the Censor Board.

Soni said she wanted someone who would not have any “conflict of interest” in the position and would be free to cut out any offending bits from the movies.

“During my talks [with prospective replacements for outgoing chief Sharmila Tagore,] I realized that someone from the film field will have contacts all over the industry and they may not be able to cut offensive sections.. giving rise to conflict of interest,” she told reporters in Delhi today.

The explanation is unlikely to cut much ice with an angry film industry, which feels that the appointment is part of the government’s move to put in a pliable Censor Board chief who will do what the government wants her to do.

Many film organizations have already protested the move, including the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, which has asked her to reconsider her decision.

Samson, a classical dancer who is also the chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Academy, has already admitted that she doesn’t have a deep knowledge of cinema and has only a “lay person’s” understanding of it.

Soni also said that she was tired of people coming up to her and complaining about offensive films [during the tenure of Sharmila Tagore] and wanted the Board to be more sensitive to the demands of groups and communities.

The new Censor Board chief, who has already admitted to not finding enough time to catch up on movies, said she wanted to ensure that films were “socially responsible.”