CBFC stance strikes at root of healthy democracy: Director of Amartya Sen documentary

Director Suman Ghosh was asking to mute four words from hid documentary on Amartya Sen, including ‘cow’ and ‘Gujarat’.

cities Updated: Jul 15, 2017 23:39 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Suman Ghosh,An Argumentative Indian,Amartya Sen
Director Suman Ghosh is also an associate professor of economics at the Florida Atlantic University.(HT Photo)

Suman Ghosh, director of An Argumentative Indian, the film on economist Amartya Sen, is not ready to snip any of the four words the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) objected to for giving release certificate to his one-hour documentary. He told HT he will argue his case with logic till the end, since the board’s stance is against the culture of a healthy democracy. Excerpts.

Which were the words in your film that the censor board objected to?

The board wanted me to mute or ‘beep out’ some words or phrases uttered by Dr Sen in the film. These four are “Cow”, “Gujarat”, “Hindu India” and “Hindutva view of India”. A member of the board suggested this to me after scrutinising my film thoroughly.

What was your initial reaction?

Naturally I was shocked since I had never expected this since this film was nothing but an academic documentary. However, I expressed my inability to mute or ‘beep out’ these words or phrases. I clearly told them I will not ‘beep out’ any of the four words or phrases forget muting all four. The funny thing was that the board was agreeable to issue the documentary U/A certificate if I ‘beep out’ these words.

What will be your next course of action?

I will wait and see whether the film is forwarded to the review committee. I will place my arguments there as well. However, my point against muting the four words or phrases will remain the same everywhere.

Are you thinking of taking the legal course?

First let me see what is the official reply from CBFC. Depending on the reply, I may consult legal experts. The future course of action will depend on the situation then.

If nothing works, will you consider releasing your film through alternative channels like Youtube?

Yes, that channel is always open for me. But I will see it till the last. Finally, if nothing works out I will release it online. But I will surely not be happy with it. Releasing on Internet will be last option since first I want to go through that long drawn battle.

What is the most frustrating in the entire episode?

A healthy democracy always encourages arguments and counter arguments. When such arguments comes from a person such as Amartya Sen, the debate is enriched. I feel there is an attempt to deprive people from listening to such a rich argument. It is a matter of fear as well.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 23:37 IST