I am a Hindu, says Leela Samson

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:19 pm IST

Published - January 26, 2015 06:25 pm IST - HYDERABAD:

Former chief of Central Board for Film Certification Leela Samson during the final day of the Hyderabad Literary Festival in Hyderabad on Monday.  Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

Former chief of Central Board for Film Certification Leela Samson during the final day of the Hyderabad Literary Festival in Hyderabad on Monday. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

“By virtue of being a dancer, I am a Hindu in philosophy. Even my family has acknowledged that. It does not matter what people have to say about me,” said former Censor Board chairperson Leela Samson, in what was seen as a veiled reply to critics questioning her ‘religious biases’.

The Bharatnatyam exponent went on to explain that she was exposed to diverse faiths from her childhood as her father was a Jew and mother a Catholic. Religion, however, was never an issue for her.

Indian arts are multicultural

Ms. Samson was participating in a session on Cultural and Creative Pluralism in Modern India, on the final day of the Hyderabad Literary Festival, which was held at the sprawling Hyderabad Public School (Begumpet) grounds on Monday.

Talking about arts and religion in the country, she felt Indian dance and music was multi-cultural, and those who learn it enter a space beyond faith.

“If I have to perform on Lord Shiva, then I have to know him. The journey of knowing gods has been the most beautiful part of my life. It is a privilege to get under their skin and understand the spirit of the character,” she said.

On PK and MSG

Under fire from some sections for allegedly clearing the release of the movie PK, and halting the release of MSG, Ms. Samson came clear on the issue. “I have not watched PK or MSG. A panel of five members from cross sections of the society watch a movie and decide its certification. I do not know why MSG was not allowed to release. Even the revision committee said ‘no’ to the movie and it does not reflect on me.”

Having recently courted controversy for stepping down as chairperson of the Censor Board, the danseuse said she had tendered her resignation almost six months ago as her tenure was over. “Fact of the matter is, we were just hanging on [in] there and waiting for a new body to be constituted. As it had been a year since my term ended, I decided to resign.”

Ghar waapsi

Popular film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, who was one of the speakers, felt that the plurality in India was here to stay. “People persecuted all across have been given sanctuary here,” he observed. He warned that reducing the nation to one narrative of ‘you and me’ based on communities would be catastrophic.

Asked for his take on the ‘ghar wapsi’ programme initiated by right-wing Hindu groups, he said, “It won’t even make a dent to the conscience of the country as deep down we are knitted together. Cultural surgery cannot make a difference,” he said.

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