Modi gets more sway in India's new-look movie censor panel

Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:39am EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian politicians, writers and Bollywood film-makers linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have been named to the censorship panel, battling allegations they were hand-picked by a pro-Hindu government with a partisan agenda.

Pahlaj Nihalani, a movie producer, was chosen as chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification on Monday along with nine new members to replace incumbents who quit last week citing government interference.

Nihalani, the producer of Bollywood hits such as "Aankhen" in the 1990s, created a promotional campaign video for the May 2014 election that saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to power.

The appointments invited ridicule on social media, with Twitter users questioning the merits of picking well-known sympathizers of Modi and his party.

Newcomers on the panel include politicians, actors and a writer who wrote a script for a film about Modi.

Film-maker Ashoke Pandit, one of the new members, said individual political leanings would not affect their work.

"I'm a big fan of Mr Modi and his vision ... but when it comes to passing films, there is a constitution and you have to follow that," Pandit said, adding last week's mass resignations were a political move to discredit the ruling government.

Nihalani was not available for comment.   Continued...

A cinema goer watches Bollywood movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring actor Shah Rukh Khan, inside Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai December 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui