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India Sacks Censor Board Chief Anupam Kher


The Hindustan Times, Oct. 14, 2004

Photo: Final Solution

The Centre on Wednesday removed actor Anupam Kher as the Censor Board chief. In fact, the I&B [Information and Broadcasting] Ministry had asked Kher to step down on Tuesday night but he reportedly refused, saying the decision was politically motivated.

Ministry sources said Kher had been replaced by Sharmila Tagore. They claimed the actor was removed following pressure from a section of the Left parties [in particular the Communist Party of India-Marxist (C.P.I.-M.) led by Harkishen Singh Surjeet].

An angry Kher said that the government was questioning his credibility. 'If the Government of India wants to play with my credibility and dignity as a citizen of India, not only will I challenge it but I will not allow them to insult me in this manner,' he told H.T.

As Censor Board chief, Kher was in the spotlight for not clearing Final Solution, the controversial Rakesh Sharma documentary on the Gujarat riots. It was finally cleared by a panel comprising Kher, Teesta Setalvad, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani.

I&B Ministry officially maintained that Kher had been removed as he was not able to devote much time to the Censor Board in view of his increasing film commitments.

Criticising the Centre's decision, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt claimed he had received unconfirmed reports that Kher was replaced as he had cleared [Amu] a film on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.