A DOCUMENTARY on Amartya Sen has run into trouble with the Censor Board, which is learnt to have asked filmmaker Suman Ghosh to bleep out the words “Gujarat”, “cow”, “Hindu India” and “Hindutva view of India”, spoken by the Nobel laureate.
The hour-long documentary, The Argumentative Indian, shot in two parts in 2002 and in 2017, was scheduled to be released on Friday. But after the screening at the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) regional office here on Tuesday, Ghosh was reportedly told that he would have to bleep out these words.
“It (CBFC) asked me to bleep out the word ‘Gujarat’ as Sen was speaking on the Gujarat riots in the documentary. Then it asked me to bleep out the word ‘cow’, which, in my opinion, was very funny. We were also asked to bleep out words like Hindu and Hindutva. We objected to this,” said Ghosh.
“I will not bleep out a single word in the documentary. There is a process and we will follow the process. Let’s see what happens and how far I can go with this,” he said.
According to sources, the CBFC examiner of the film in Kolkata has sent a written report to the board’s headquarters in Mumbai, objecting to the use of these words, stating that it will hurt the sentiments of a particular community. The report has said that the “security of the state (Gujarat)” may be “jeopardised or endangered”, and the reference to “Hindu India” may foment communal disharmony.
A copy of the report will be given to Ghosh, who was notified verbally about the objections at a meeting at the CBFC office on Tuesday. “One can move our revision committee if not satisfied. There are procedures,” said a source in CBFC Kolkata.
CBFC Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani did not respond to calls or text messages. The regional CBFC officer, Ajay Mhamia, could not be contacted either.
Mala Dutta Ghosh, advisory committee member of CBFC Kolkata, declined to comment on the issue. “Please talk to higher officials. I will not make a comment on this issue,” said Ghosh.
Amartya Sen, who is currently in Santiniketan, 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… If the government has reservations about the documentary, then there could be a discussion on such reservations where others would place their opinion. I should not speak on this.”
Condemning the CBFC’s decision, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Every single voice of the opposition is being muzzled. Now, Dr Amartya Sen. If somebody of his stature cannot express himself freely, what hope does the common citizen have.”
“We must give a patient hearing to what Prof Sen said in the documentary. He is only giving the message of unity and harmony. Objections have been raised against the use of words like Gujarat. That word has been used by Sen in 2002 during the first part of the shooting of the documentary. Not only Prof Sen, every person has the right to say and criticise something which is historically accurate,” said TMC MP Sugata Bose, who also features in the documentary.
“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 opinions 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,” said veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee.
A private screening of the documentary was held at the state-owned ‘Nandan’ on Monday.
In March, the CBFC had delayed the release of a Bengali film, Shunyota, which was based on demonetisation. Director Suvendu Ghosh had alleged that CBFC members had asked him to bleep out some dialogues criticising the Centre’s demonetisation decision.