Won’t allow CBFC to ‘beep’ film on Amartya Sen, prefer online release: Director

However, Suman Ghosh will explore his legal options and try persuading censor board officials against chopping off words like ‘cows’ and ‘criminality in Gujarat’ before taking such a step.

kolkata Updated: Jul 12, 2017 20:57 IST
Avijit Ghosal and Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Avijit Ghosal and Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Amartya Sen,The Argumentative Indian,Censor Board
Even as the Censor Board’s action evoked widespread condemnation, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said it would be improper for him to comment on the issue because he is the subject of the documentary.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Film director Suman Ghosh has said that he would rather release his documentary on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen online than subject it to the whims of the censor board.

“I am not going to omit a single word. If nothing works out, I have the liberty of releasing it online,” Ghosh told HT on Wednesday. However, he will explore his legal options and try “persuading censor board officials” before taking such a step.

The Central Board of Film Certification’s decision to stall The Argumentative Indian – a documentary on economist Amartya Sen – over the use of words such as “cows” and “criminality in Gujarat” has triggered sharp public criticism. Many claim this amounts to muzzling critical voices.

Ghosh said he will not give in without a fight. “I found it bizarre that they (the censor board) wanted four to five words beeped out. I told them that I won’t do it, and will go to court if need be.”

The documentary was supposed to be released at Nandan, a state-run film complex, on July 14.

Celebrities such as Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Saumitra Chatterjee and poet Shankha Ghosh stood by Ghosh. “This is a shameless decision,” Chatterjee told a television channel. “It is nothing less than sheer stupidity.”

Shankha Ghosh, for his part, urged board members to reconsider their decision immediately. “It is quite unfortunate that a documentary on a personality such as Amartya Sen has been stalled due to certain words,” the Jnanpith award-winner said.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee took the opportunity to allege that “every single voice of opposition is being muzzled” under the present dispensation. “Now, even somebody of Dr Amartya Sen’s stature cannot express himself freely. If that’s the case, what hope does the common citizen have?” she tweeted.

Censor board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani is a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Members of Subhas Chandra Bose’s family also came down heavily on the government body. “Facts are facts, and when a person like Amartya Sen speaks, it becomes important. What he says may not be to my liking, but I have to hear him out,” said Krishna Bose, former Lok Sabha MP and wife of Sisir Bose –the martyred freedom fighter’s nephew.

Jadhavpur Lok Sabha MP Sugata Bose, who had once taught history at Harvard University, said the censor board should not have clamped down on the documentary over some references to the Gujarat riots. “Why just professor Sen, we all have the right to criticise such incidents,” he added.

However, even as voices of condemnation arose all around him, the economist under question wore a look of indifferent objectivity. “As I am the subject of this documentary film, I should not comment. It is the director, or other people, who can react,” Sen told a Bengali television channel.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 20:17 IST