Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has become the latest target of the country’s film certification board, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), for expressing his views in a documentary film based on the celebrated economist.
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The CBFC has told filmmaker Suman Ghosh to bleep out words - the board thinks are controversial - like “Cow”, “Hindu India” and “Hindutva view of India”. Even as Ghosh has expressed his inability to do the same, the filmmaker is waiting for a written communication on the changes suggested by the board, according to reports.
The film board’s scrutinizing the filmmaker and the subject of the film has drawn criticism from politicians, actors and civil society claiming that the board’s remarks are shocking.
In an interview with news channel NDTV, Sen said he was “astonished” to hear the CBFCs order adding that the turn of events point towards an authoritarian regime at the helm of affairs.
Taking a jibe at the film certification board, columnist and author Tavleen Singh turned to micro-blogging site Twitter and tweeted, “the Censor Board has become a joke. “Its attempt to censor a documentary on Amartya Sen are beyond ludicrous. Gujarat, cow and Hindu bleeped!”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee also trained her guns at the authorities for attempting to censure the Harvard professor and author of the book The Argumentative Indian. “Every single voice of the opposition is being muzzled. Now, Dr Amartya Sen…If somebody of his stature cannot express himself freely, what hope does the common citizen have,” her official handle tweeted.
The words, facing CBFC axe, are from the discussion between Sen and economist Kaushik Basu. “Censoring Sen is unbecoming of a country of India's stature. Sad if India imitates the very countries it criticizes,” former Chief Economic Adviser Basu tweeted.
CBFC’s chairman Pahlaj Nihalani has faced criticism earlier as well for allegedly harboring political bias and being close to Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s government. Nihalani was in the middle of controversy several times for his alleged discomfort regarding depiction of certain sexual orientation in movies.
The board drew ire several times earlier this year for not certifying movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha, a film about “secret lives of four women” in a small Indian town exploring themselves. The movie was later released on public demand.
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