Documentary shows former PM and Sen arguing on policy 

Now read the text of the dialogues that Pahlaj Nihalani’s CBFC objected to in the documentary, ‘The Argumentative Indian’

Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

The 60-minute documentary The Argumentative Indian on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has the economist actually criticising some of former Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s policies and the former PM defending them. However, this is not included in the trailer that was uploaded on social media on Friday.

The documentary, shot by economist Suman Ghosh in two parts, first in 2003 and the rest in 2017, has been in news following the refusal of the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) to clear the film until the producer agreed to delete the words ‘cow’, ‘Hindu India’, ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Gujarat’.

While there is international outrage at what is seen as puerile objections, Ghosh, who also teaches Economics in Miami, explained that the one minute-forty-one second trailer of the film that he tweeted and posted on his Facebook page had been prepared long before the screening before the CBFC and had nothing to do with the controversy. He was responding to observations that the trailer did not have the four words objected to by the CBFC.

Film makers are aghast at the law which does not require the CBFC to spell out its objections in writing. “Since it is a quasi-judicial order, CBFC’s objections should be ‘speaking orders’ and clearly spelt out,” said a filmmaker. The trailer can be viewed here:

The CBFC, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed to helm it, appears to have made itself a laughing stock by objecting to dialogues such as the following in the documentary:

  • 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....”
  • “...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 in terms of argument.”
  • “Now a lot of people would disagree with my view of India.... Whenever I try to take this rather grand view of India, which is not the banal Hindutva view of India, whenever I make a statement, I know the next morning I will get 800 attacks on social media of four different kinds.... I can see there is an organised attack (by a particular political group)...Now the main thing is not to be deterred by it.”

Prof Sen told The Telegraph that he found CBFC’s objections quite extraordinary. He told the newspaper :

  • “It’s settled in my mind two questions. One is whether these bodies like the censor board are working in the interests of the nation and its people or the interests of the ruling party and the government. To that, I think, this particular incident offers a fairly clear answer. The second question, in my mind, is whether anyone is going to see this film. They might not be interested in me. But of course, the censor board has now made it an interesting film and I am grateful for that.”
  • “I mean cow is not one of my favourite words. It's much more the favourite word of many members of the ruling party. It's not so much the word cow, the fact that I raised my eyebrows and complained whether in a country as multi-religious, whether cow slaughter could be banned, on which the lives of so many people depend. It’s that what they object to. Not if I go on saying cow, cow, cow...”

With inputs by Supriya Nidhi

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Published: 15 Jul 2017, 6:50 PM