“The Ministry Can Act As the Certifying Body” Says Ira Bhaskar
Ira Bhaskar, who resigned from CBFC like the chairperson Leela Samson on Friday, after a tribunal cleared the controversial film Messenger of God, said that “the ministry can directly act as the certifying body”.
The Central Board of Film Certification‘s (CBFC) revising committee refused to clear socio-spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda’s chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s upcoming film Messenger of God (MSG) on last Monday. The senior Board member Nandini Sardesai informed the press that “The film will not release this Friday.”
All the members of the committee chaired by Sardesai agreed with the examining committee that the film MSG cannot be screened in its entirety as the film not only promotes blind faith and superstition, but could hurt religious sentiments and cause law-and-order problems.
The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) on Thursday cleared the film. On Friday, Leela Samson resigned as Chairperson of the CBFC, citing reasons such as “interference, coercion and corruption of panel members and officers of the organisation who are appointed by the ministry and having to manage an organisation whose Board has not met for over nine months as the ministry had no funds to permit the meeting.”
She alleged that the Information & Broadcasting Ministry is interfering with the working of CBFC through an “additional charge” CEO and corrupt panel of members who degraded the values the members and the Chairperson stood for. When informed that MSG had been cleared by the Tribunal, she said, “It is a mockery of Central Board of Film Certification. My resignation is final. I have informed the (I&B) Secretary.”
Another senior member of the board, Ira Bhaskar came to the support of Samson, saying that “Other resignations will follow; we will make a joint statement tomorrow.”
The Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, Delhi, Bhaskar pointed out that though their term ended in March 2014, Samson was persuaded by the I & B Ministry to stay on till a new Chairperson was appointed.
“We strived for transparency, we were attempting to make changes, but the government was not in favour,” she said. She protested that though both Regional Officer and the CEO have to report to the Chairperson, they have been functioning independently.
In the film, Dera chief takes on the drug mafia and foils all attempts to kill him. “If he were a superhero in a fantasy film, it would be exciting to watch, but this is self-glorification by a real person. He is shown performing miracles like curing AIDS patient and bringing a dead man back to life. This would only encourage blind faith and every Godman across the country will want to get featured in a film too,” she argues.