“The Argumentative Indian” : Amartya Sen documentary Director says ‘No’ in formal response to CBFC

The film, which is structured as a conversation between Sen and his student and internationally known economist, Kaushik Basu, covers a span of 15 years (2002-2017)

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Documentary on Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences. Wikimedia Commons
  • Suman Ghosh has said NO to CBFC regarding their recommendations on the director’s documentary
  • CBFC told the director that the film would be released only if he complies with the boards suggestion to beep out words like “cow”
  • ‘The Argumentative Indian’ is structured as a conversation between Amartya Sen and his student, Kaushik Basu

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: Suman Ghosh, director of The Argumentative Indian– a documentary on Amartya Sen, who earlier refused to follow the Central Board of Film Certification’s diktat, has on Tuesday said that he has formally said ‘NO’ to the CBFC regarding the recommendations.

CBFC told the national award winning director, that his film would be released with a U/A (parental guidance) certificate only if he complies with the board’s suggestions to beep out words like “cow”, “Gujarat”, “Hindutva view of India” and “Hindu India”, which have been used in the context of the present political climate in the country.

“I came to know it is an online process now where you can only opt for ‘yes’ if you accept their (CBFC) suggestions or ‘no’ if you reject their suggestions… After verbally communicating with me on July 11, later on they sent me the letter bearing the same suggestions to keep on mute six parts (both words and phrases)—‘Gujarat’, ‘in India’, ‘Hindu’, ’cow’, ‘these days’ and ‘Hindutva’ for granting ‘U’ certification. In my formal response I opted for ‘no’ option as there is no question of reconsidering my stand of effecting not a single cut in an Amartya Sen documentary,” said Ghosh.

“But since if a director says no in such situations, his film has to go to the revising committee, I guess I have to appear before the revising committee now in Mumbai,” he further mentioned.

Ghosh stated his busy shooting schedule for a feature film, the reason of delay in his formal online response.

However, when the Nobel Laureate himself was asked about the matter, he chose to stay away from the controversy. “What can I say about this? This film is not made by me. I am the subject of the film and the subject should not be talking about these things. The director Suman Ghosh would say whatever needs to be said… Do not want to start a discussion on this. If the government has any disapproval about the film made on me, it has to be discussed with the concerned stakeholders.” Sen said.

Ghosh had earlier mentioned that he would approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), if the matter gets resolved at the revising committee level.

“The attitude of the censor board just underlines the relevance of the documentary in which Sen highlights the growing intolerance in India. Such scrutiny of any criticism of the government in a democratic country is shocking. There is no way I would agree to beep or mute or change anything that one of the greatest minds of our times has said in the documentary,” Ghosh told The Telegraph

Also read: Kolkata: Special Screening of Amartya Sen documentary “An Argumentative Indian” on July 10

According to the quint report, the CBFC move was dubbed as “preposterous” by CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury. “On what basis can a documentary on an Indian Nobel Prize winner be stopped just because it mentions cow or Hindutva?,” he asked.

In the documentary, Sen speaks of social choice theory, development economics and the rise of right wing nationalism across the world. The film, which is structured as a conversation between Sen and his student and internationally known economist, Kaushik Basu, covers a span of 15 years (2002-2017).

“So many of our democratic rights are being violated but nothing much is happening…. I think we are not responding and that worries me,” said Ghosh, after a private screening of the documentary at Nandan III.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha