Amartya Sen documentary wades into controversy with ‘cow’ and ‘Gujarat’ remarks

Amartya Sen documentary wades into controversy with ‘cow’ and ‘Gujarat’ remarks

Kolkata: A documentary on Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen has triggered a controversy as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has directed filmmaker Suman Ghosh to beep out several words such as ‘cow’, ‘Gujarat’, ‘Hindutva’ to get it released with a UA certificate.

A section of intelligentsia along with the political opposition of the ruling BJP at the centre reacted sharply to the CBFC objections.

The one hour long documentary film ‘The Argumentative Indian’ directed by Suman Ghosh was  scheduled to release in Kolkata on Friday after a special screening two days ago, but now an uncertainty now looms over the release of the movie following the order given by the CBFC and the stance taken by the filmmaker.

Suman Ghosh told IBNS: “CBFC told me that they would issue an U/A certificate to my documentary- Argumentative Indian, only if I beep-out four words- ‘Gujarat’, ‘Cow’, ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindutva’ from the film.”

The national award winning filmmaker refused to follow the order given by the CBFC.

He said he will challenge the decision given by the film certification body.

“I will not beep-out a single word from my documentary on Amartya Sen. There is a process where we can challenge CBFC’s decision. I’m going through the channel, let’s see what happens,” Suman Ghosh added.

Angry reactions poured in with Dadasaheb Phalke winning veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee condemning the action calling it ridiculous while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted her protest.

Mamata Banerjee said every voice of opposition is being muzzled in India now targetting the Modi government and the CBFC that has been courting repeated controversy under Pahlaj Nihalani, its chairman.

The documentary was made by Ghosh over years and was screened in Kolkata on July 10. It was earlier screened in London and New York also.

Amartya Sen, who will be seen in the film, earlier refused to make any comment, considering himself just a subject of the film.

Ahead of the controversy, the film was screened by NGO Prabha Khaitan Foundation at Nandan III here recently.

Amartya Sen, his daughter Nandana Sen, his former wife and noted litterateur Nabanita Dev Sen, veteran actor Soumitro Chatterjee, Sundeep Bhutoria of Prabha Khaitan Foundation, were present at the screening along with other special invitees and dignitaries.

The documentary,  The Argumentative Indian, traces the life and work of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and explores the intellectual giant’s formative years of life and its influence on his views of the world – past and present.

The documentary is structured as a free flowing conversation between Professor Sen and his student and Cornell economics professor, Kaushik Basu.

Through the conversation, the narrative takes us from his childhood days in Santiniketan, West Bengal, to his college in Calcutta and his academic career in the USA and UK, where he was the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University.

The documentary highlighted Professor Sen’s intellectual roots; his views on Social Choice Theory; Development Economics; on Philosophy and the current rise of nationalism in the world as embodied by Donald Trump and the Hindutva wave in India.

Views from other eminent scholars, Paul Samuelson, Kenneth Arrow, Sugata Bose, Timothy Scanlon and former Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh enriched the understanding of the world of Amartya Sen in the film.

Image: Avishek Mitra. 

–India Blooms News Service

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