Censor board flags usage of words ‘cow’, ‘Gujarat’ in documentary on Amartya Sen

Taking a stance against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), filmmaker Suman Ghosh will not release his documentary 'Argumentative Indian' in Kolkata this weekend as scheduled. The film documents the life of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Written by SANTANU CHOWDHURY | Kolkata | Updated: July 12, 2017 3:05 pm
Amartya Sen, Suman Ghosh, Argumentative Indian, CBFC Noble Laureate Amartya Sen at the Express ADDA. (Express Photo/Praveen Khanna, File)


Taking a stance against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), filmmaker and economist Suman Ghosh will not release his documentary ‘Argumentative Indian’ in Kolkata this weekend as scheduled. The film, which documents the life of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, was flagged by the censor board for its use of the words ‘Gujarat’, ‘Hindu India’, ‘Cow’ and ‘Hindutva view of India’.

The hour-long documentary “The Argumentative Indian” – shot in two parts in 2002 and in 2017 – was screened at Nandad III on Monday and was scheduled for release this Friday. However, after the screening of the documentary at CBFC’s regional office in Kolkata on Tuesday, director Ghosh was told the documentary could only be released with a UA certificate, if he agreed to beep out words like “Gujarat”, “cow”, “Hindutva view of India” and “Hindu India” which were spoken by Sen in the context of the present political climate in the country. The director, however, refused to follow its diktat and as a result uncertainty looms over the release of the documentary.

Speaking to the media, Ghosh slammed the CBFC for asking him to beep certain words. “It asked me to beep the word Gujarat as Sen was speaking about Gujarat riots in the documentary. Then it asked me to beep the word cow which in my opinion was very funny. We were also asked to beep words like Hindu and Hindutva. We objected to it. We know how films like Udta Punjab and Lipstick under My Burkha went into controversies following its dispute with CBFC regarding film certification. I don’t agree with what happened with these films and rightfully the opposition voice was raised. But I never thought such parameters would be followed in documentaries which is not a scripted movie and when it is about a person with such international stature. I was a bit shocked to experience this,” he said.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who is presently in Santiniketan in Birbhum district, told reporters, “I have nothing to say on this as I have not directed this documentary. I am the subject of the documentary and being a subject of the movie I should not comment on this. The director will give his opinion on this. I don’t want to be a part of this discussion.” Prof Sen added, “If the government has reservation about the documentary then there could be discussion on such reservation where others would place their opinion. I should not speak on this.”

It may be recalled that in March, the CBFC had delayed the release of a Bengali film “Shunyota” (Emptiness) which was the first movie made with the subject of demonetisation. Director Suvendu Ghosh had alleged that members of local CBFC had similarly asked him to beep some dialogues and words which had criticised the Centre’s demonetisation move.

Significantly, Amartya Sen is a fierce critic of the Central government and is a regular in raising his voice against several issues. Sen had criticised the Centre’s demonetisation move and recently spoke against the Basirhat violence.

According to member of film fraternity, Sen’s relationship with the central government might have played a role in the latest controversy surrounding the documentary. Veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee said it was “foolishness” on the part of CBFC not to allow its release and such move amounts to “fascism”. “This is nothing but foolishness. I don’t know why we still call ours a democratic nation when we don’t have the right to express our pinions and views. The person who has spoken such words is one who has such international repute. This is a kind of fascism. We cannot expect more from a government which bans eating beef,” Chatterjee said.


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  1. N
    Narasimhacharya Amaravadi
    Jul 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm
    I do not understand how those words were deemed provocative by the censor board members. It is documentary/ movie now, but news papers tomorrow and the people of the nation the day after who will face this regulation. Why are the agencies/ members of the agencies so over jealous?
    1. N
      Jul 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm
    2. B
      Babu Gupta
      Jul 13, 2017 at 1:05 am
      Comrades Amritya Sen and Mr Chaterjee should also be talking about pork and pork eating. They should also address Islamic Terror which is being destructive world over. The likes of Amritya Sen know that they can get away be writing any thing against Hindus, but, these cowards do not have courage to address most destructive Islamic forces which are causing havoc world over and is more relevant issue today
      1. S
        Jul 12, 2017 at 9:24 pm
        These Bangali crooks like Sen, Ghosh or Chattarji are all SCAMGRESS agents. This useless NUT Sen being VC of Nalanda University didn't anything for India as "economist" except eating all benefits from Govt. Somebody should slap on the face of this Bast.... Ghosh who comments words like Hindu India, or Hindutwa as he must be thing bengalis are not Hindus. Are they belong to Bangladesh? India is the only country with many such crooks questioning our own country culture, nationalism. Real Ass....
        1. S
          Sagnik Bose
          Jul 13, 2017 at 2:32 am
          Satish You are a schizopath and a bengali hater.Probably due to lack of education.You should know this community produce highest number of nobel laurates.Don't give us a lecture on nationalism. The national anthem of India is written by a bengali rabindranath tagore and majority of freedom fighters came from bengal. Bengali hindus are true hindus who maintains liberal practice of it's taught by ramkrishna and vivekananda . Both of them are not cow vigilants and hindu fundamentalists like sanghis.By the way stop defaming my nation india by abusing a an indian nobel laurate.Go Back To Pakistan which is the country for fundamentalists like you.
        2. L
          L bhadrapati Devi
          Jul 12, 2017 at 8:24 pm
          This A Sen has lose sense being old. He should be ashamed of his greediness rather than blaming over his removal as Chancellor of Balance University. This crook intellect sacrifice future Bengali Hindu during his exercise of political ideology. Wish for early departure for you otherwise your own status will be spoiled by your childish nature.
          1. S
            Jul 12, 2017 at 7:53 pm
            Dear Mr. Murthy, Here is report of Sen's interview to NDTV, in 2014. " He said it was "silly" that some people have talked about leaving the country if a Modi government. " You don't migrate because of a wrong government, you vote it out, " the world renowned economist said, indicating that he would have preferred a BJP led into the elections by someone by someone other than Mr. Modi....But he also emphasised, " I am not pro-Congress... the Congress record is not very good." Please let us get from you the documented report of what you had got about Sen leaving the country. Or has Sen contradicted his NDTV interview? Further, I am not bothered, Mr. Murthy as to where you live. An Indian citizen with a valid passport and visa can also move out and come in. Many NRIs do. That cannot be held against Sen.
            1. A
              Jul 12, 2017 at 7:35 pm
              Uncultured uneducated Chaddi gadhas now banning their own mother. Cow is now a dirty word even for sarkari sanskari bhakts.
              1. k
                Jul 12, 2017 at 7:12 pm
                Winston Churchil was also a man of international repute, but used to talk disparagingly about Mahatma Gandhi and India's independence movement. Every thing a man of international repute utters need not be gospel truth.
                1. S
                  Jul 12, 2017 at 6:40 pm
                  Check out who is funding this film about a looser communist. NDTV BBC?
                  1. S
                    Soma mitra
                    Jul 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm
                    In the eyes of bakths those who oppose them are traitors and good for nothing . Don't forget that these chaddees are on the governing seat just coz the media and such media persons worked hard against corrupt Congress government . .. did u get that u Blind bakth
                    1. S
                      Jul 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm
                      Bling Bhakths are good for nation building not like u without chaddiss!!! Are you not wearing Chaddee? Shame on you!!!
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