Documentary row: Don't want to discuss this, says Amartya Sen

12 Jul 2017

Refusing to be drawn into the controversy triggered by the Censor Board red-flagging a documentary on him due to some words he uttered in the film, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on Wednesday suggested that the government speak to the shareholders about its disapproval. "What can I say about this? This film is not made by me. I am the subject of the film and the subject should not be talking about these things. The director Suman Ghosh would say whatever needs to be said," Sen said when reporters sought his reaction on the documentary "An Argumentative Indian" failing to get the nod from the censor authorities. The hour-long documentary by Ghosh met with objections from the censor board due to words like "cow", "Gujarat", "Hindu" as well as "Hindutva" used by the renowned economist in an interview that is part of the film. The censor board asked the director to mute the words on the plea their usage would "damage the country's image" but Ghosh, however, refused to mute "even a single word" "I do not want to start a discussion on this. If the government has any disapproval about the film made on me, it has to be discussed with the concerned stakeholders. "It does not look good for me to say something on this matter," Sen added. The documentary, structured as a free flowing conversation between Sen and his student and Cornell 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 for release in a number of theatres on Friday. Earlier, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has verbally communicated to a film maker to mute four words including 'cow' in his documentary on Amartya Sen, the director said. The four words CBFC's regional office here wanted to be muted are 'Gujarat', 'Cow', 'Hindutva view of India' and 'Hindu India', Suman Ghosh, director of the documentary 'The Argumentative Indian', told PTI. "After sitting for three hours at the Censor Board office in Kolkata, during which my documentary was screened and the members scrutinised every single shot, I was verbally told last night to mute four words 'Gujarat', 'Cow', 'Hindutva view of India' and 'Hindu India' for getting U/A certificate," Gosh said. "I expressed my inability to them," he said. Taking out certain words from the discussion between Sen and the interviewer, economist Kaushik Basu, would remove the soul of the documentary, Ghosh said. "I am waiting for their written communicaton and whether they will send the film to review committee in Mumbai. In any situation my response will be the same," He said. "These days fillms get online certification. So I hope the issue gets resolved quickly. But no question of taking out some words," he added. Contacted, a member of the CBFC here said, "Nothing to comment to the media on what the director said. In the documentary, Sen speaks of social choice theory, development economics, philosophy and the rise of right wing nationalism across the world including India. It has been made over a span of 15 years from 2002 and is structured as a conversation between Sen and his student economist Kaushik Basu.