The Indian Censor Board has now come up with words that cannot be used in a documentary made by Suman Ghosh, a professor of economics in Miami and a filmmaker, as reported by The Telegraph.
This documentary features conversations between Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and economist Kaushik Basu. However, Ghosh has been directed by the CBFC to mute certain words in the film viz “Gujarat”, “cow”, “Hindutva view of India” and “Hindu India”.
Sen is seen speaking the words above in the documentary; the Board has said that unless they have been muted the documentary will not be handed over a UA certificate.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Ghosh said, “The attitude of the censor board just underlines the relevance of the documentary in which Sen highlights the growing intolerance in India. Such scrutiny of any criticism of the government in a democratic country is shocking. There is no way I would agree to beep or mute or change anything that one of the greatest minds of our times has said in the documentary.”
The documentary takes its title from Sen’s 2005 book of essays and is somewhat of a sequel to Ghosh’s 2011 documentary Amartya Sen: A Life Reexamined, which aimed at exploring the life and work of the well-known and revered economist.
In The Argumentative Indian, shot in two parts in 2002 and 2017, the word “Gujarat” comes up in a lecture Sen delivered at Cornell University: “…Why democracy works so well is that the government is not free to have its stupidities and in the case of Gujarat its criminalities, without the Opposition being howled down and booted out….”
On being asked by economist Kaushik Basu about the context of his book, The Argumentative Indian, Sen said that it was “really based on my understanding of the country… (and) the country was now being interpreted sometimes as Hindu India and sometimes as other restricted visions of the country….”
Answering the same question, Sen used the word “cow” once while explaining the need for debate and argument. “…There was a kind of grandness of vision there, and an integrated picture which hangs together in trying to embrace each other, not through chastising people for having mistreated a cow or some other thing, but dealing with people regarding argument.”
On the current restrictions that have been imposed on airing his views on the present day India, Sen comments with dejection that he has been immunised to these kinds of reactions. Every time he talks about his take on the scenario in India, he ends up receiving similar backlashes.
While refraining from commenting to a Bengali news channel, Sen said, “Since I am the subject of this documentary film, I should not pass any comment. It is the director, or other people, who can react. I should not speak on this matter.”
Ghosh is yet to come at a decision regarding muting those words in his documentary.
This ridiculous decision by the Censor Board of India is not an unprecedented event. This authority is infamous for taking decisions in the name of uplifting the morals of a country that has intrinsic relations with ‘sanskaar’. Similar reactions have been noticed in the case of Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Udta Punjab’ and the very recent, Alankrita Srivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’.
The Logical Indian community strongly condemns the Censor Board’s stance on Suman Ghosh’s documentary. It is essential for the authorities to realise that curbing freedom of speech by camouflaging it with ‘threats to Indian culture’ is not a sensible step to do. More and more films should be made (and not censored) with strong political messages that enable the audience to frame an opinion of their own.