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Kher's dismissal draws strong reactions from industry

By Manisha Deshpande

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Anupam Kher The abrupt dismissal of Anupam Kher as C.B.F.C chief has brought strong reactions from prominent members of the film industry. "It has confirmed our apprehensions that the government in power is a biased, anti-film industry government. The N.D.A. government had upheld the industry and granted it industry status but the current I & B Minister, Jaipal Reddy has not had a single meeting with industry leaders so far. Besides, this is the first time that the industry is being politicized by vested interests," said Pahlaj Nihalani, President of the A.M.P.T.P.P (Association of Motion Pictures and Television Program Producers).

According to Pahlaj, "saffronization" is a term that never existed in the industry prior to this. "Members of the industry are known to have alliances with all parties, be it the Congress or B.J.P., but they are all known to be neutral when it comes to cultural interests. I fail to understand how Harkishen Singh Surjit could make such a serious allegation," he added.

Anil Nagrath, President of the Film Foundation, felt that it was Kher's bold decision to call a committee to clear the controversial film, 'Final Solutions' that cost him his post. "It has proved that the government is using the Censor Board as a tool to curb the freedom of the industry and control it. If a chairperson is summarily asked to quit office by the government, it indicates that he is a mere puppet in the government's hands. First it was Vijay Anand who was forced to resign and now its Anupam Kher," he said.

Sharmila TagoreFilm-maker Ashok Pandit, who has been campaigning for the cause of the industry, feels that the industry had found an ideal C.B.F.C Chairperson after a long time. "He went all out to support the creative freedom of film-makers and it wasn't just a one-sided mission. He even did his bit about music videos. But it is unfortunate that this is the price that he had to pay for it. The government did not even have the courtesy to inform him. His humiliation is the industry's humiliation."

Pandit feels that the new C.B.F.C. chairperson, Sharmila Tagore should not accept the post, considering that she has also been a member of the film fraternity. His views are endorsed by film producer, Shabnam Kapoor, who feels that the film industry has been once again made to dance to the tune of the government. "We had heard about Manmohan Singh dancing to the tunes of Sonia Gandhi, then the Congress dancing to the tunes of the Left. But the industry is being made to dance to the tunes of both the Left and the Government. Is this cultural liberalization?" she asks. Kapoor also feels that Sharmila Tagore should have first sorted out the controversy before accepting the position as new CBFC chief.

Meanwhile, leading film makers have decided to come together under the leadership of Ashok Pandit, to protest against Kher's dismissal at a press conference to be held at the Press Club tomorrow. "If the need arises we may even take a delegation to the government," Pandit adds.

The industry is now gearing up for the meeting tomorrow, which will to a great extent decide its stance on the government's control over the industry.


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