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Censor board stalls film on Amartya Sen over words ‘Gujarat’, ‘cow’: Report

A documentary on Amartya Sen, titled The Argumentative Indian, has come in the crosshairs of the CBFC. The board has asked words like “Gujarat”, “cow”, “Hindutva view of India” and “Hindu India”, uttered by the Nobel laureate be muted.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2017 16:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Amartya Sen,Central Board of Film Certification,Censor Board
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen during the special screening of Suman Ghosh’s film The Argumentative Indian in Kolkata.(IANS)

A documentary on Amartya Sen will not be released in Kolkata after filmmaker and economist Suman Ghosh refused to follow the Central Board of Film Certification’s order to mute words such as “Gujarat”, “cow”, “Hindutva view of India” and “Hindu India” spoken by the Nobel laureate, The Telegraph has reported.

Ghosh was told The Argumentative Indian, which was screened at the CBFC office in Esplanade on Tuesday, could only be released with a UA certificate if he agreed to beep out the words, the newspaper said.

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“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 on Tuesday.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and actor Soumitra Chatterjee during the special screening of Suman Ghosh’s film The Argumentative Indian. (IANS)

According to the report, the word “Gujarat” came up during a lecture Sen delivered at Cornell University in The Argumentative Indian that was shot in two parts in 2002 and 2017.

“...Why democracy works so well is that the government is not free to have its own stupidities, and in case of Gujarat its own criminalities, without the Opposition being howled down and booted out ...” Sen said.

Asked by economist Kaushik Basu about the context of his book, The Argumentative Indian, Sen said that it was “really based on my understanding of the country... (and) the country was now being interpreted sometimes as Hindu India and sometimes as other restricted visions of the country....”

“...There was a kind of grandness of vision there, and an integrated picture which hangs together in trying to embrace each other, not through chastising people for having mistreated a cow or some other thing, but dealing with people in terms of argument,” Sen said as part of his answer to Basu.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen gives his autograph on the Bengali translation of his own book The Country of First Boys,during its launch at ICCR in Kolkata on Monday. (PTI)

On Wednesday, Sen refused to comment on the controversy.

“Since I am the subject of this documentary film, I should not pass any comment. It is the director, or other people, who can react. I should not speak on this matter,” he told a Bengali television channel.

A member of the board refused to comment when asked about the objections, the newspaper said.

Ghosh, who teaches economics at Miami in the United States, is yet to decide on his next course of action.

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First Published: Jul 12, 2017 13:07 IST