MUMBAI MIRROR (July 13, 2017)

The Central Board of Film Certification has denied certification to Suman Ghosh's documentary on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, titled The Argumentative Indian, raising objections to words like 'cow', 'Gujarat', 'Hindu' and 'Hindutva' used by the economist in an interview that features in the film.

Ghosh has been asked by the CBFC to mute these words in the documentary on the plea that their usage would “damage the country's image“. The filmmaker said, “Films like Udta Punjab, Lipstick Under My Burkha have generated controversies. But I never quite imagined that a documentary which does not have a script would face the same treatment. Moreover, when the words which have been uttered by a person of such international stature are being deleted, then it only shows up to what extent things can go. As a first hand witness to such a thing, I can only say I am a bit shocked.“

The hour-long documentary, structured as a free-flowing conversation between Sen, his student and economics professor Kaushik Basu, has already been screened in New York and London. It had a special screening in Kolkata on Monday and was scheduled to release on Friday.
Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; July 13, 2017)

Borrowing its name from Amartya Sen’s most lauded work, The Argumentative Indian, a documentary on the Nobel Laureate by Florida-based economist Suman Ghosh, might not see the light of the day. Following its preliminary screening at the local office of the Central Board of Film Certification in Kolkata, the documentary was not granted clearance since it included the words, Gujarat, cow, Hindutva and Hindu. Should Ghosh want his film to hit screens, he must eliminate the words, the CBFC informed.

Citing the archaic laws of the board, the hapless filmmaker tells mid-day, “Apparently, the CBFC has a list of words that cannot be used in any film. This list, just like the archaic [Cinematography] Act, probably dates back 50-years. The discussion happened on Tuesday, and a written document directing me about the further course of action is yet to reach me.”

Ghosh was informed that any material that may appear derogatory towards a particular race or culture is objectionable. The words in question, he says, fall within this category for the board. “I tried to reason with them, but wasn’t successful. They objected to the word Gujarat, because they felt a particular community has been singled out. I told them that my film is a documentary, and the Gujarat riots took place in Gujarat, not anywhere else.”

Failing to see reason in their recommendations, Ghosh says he refused to oblige them. “I will make no changes to the documentary and will contest what they have said. If all fails, I will approach the Court. But, I won’t change anything.”

The portion that the board has objected to is a lecture given by Sen at Cornell University, in which he states, “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.” Ghosh admits that he hasn’t spoken to Sen about the CBFC’s decision, but believes he wouldn’t be in favour of the move. “I am assuming he won’t exactly be happy about it. He is one of the greatest minds of our time. He shouldn’t have to measure his words.”

Meanwhile, Sen’s daughter Nandana, was unable to comment since she was travelling.