“The Argumentative Indian”, a documentary on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen which was filmed for years by director Suman Ghosh, was screened by NGO Prabha Khaitan Foundation at Nandan III here recently ahead of the controversy over the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)’s refusal to give it clearance till a few words were beeped out.
The CBFC has asked to beep out several words such as ‘cow’, ‘Gujarat’, ‘Hindutva’ in the documentary film ‘The Argumentative Indian’, which features Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, known for his opposition to the ruling BJP-led government at the centre.
Amartya Sen, his daughter Nandana Sen, his former wife and noted litterateur Nabanita Dev Sen, veteran actor Soumitro Chatterjee, Sundeep Bhutoria of Prabha Khaitan Foundation, were present at the screening along with other special invitees and dignitaries.
The documentary, The Argumentative Indian, traces the life and work of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and explores the intellectual giant’s formative years of life and its influence on his views of the world – past and present.
The documentary is structured as a free flowing conversation between Professor Sen and his student and Cornell economics professor, Kaushik Basu.
Through the conversation, the narrative takes us from his childhood days in Santiniketan, West Bengal, to his college in Calcutta and his academic career in the USA and UK, where he was the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University.
The documentary highlighted Professor Sen’s intellectual roots; his views on Social Choice Theory; Development Economics; on Philosophy and the current rise of nationalism in the world as embodied by Donald Trump and the Hindutva wave in India.
Views from other eminent scholars, Paul Samuelson, Kenneth Arrow, Sugata Bose, Timothy Scanlon and former Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh enriched the understanding of the world of Amartya Sen in the film.
Filmmaker Suman Ghosh said: “I conceived of this documentary on Amartya Sen during 2000/2001. He belongs to a rare category of intellectuals who are fading away in this increasingly specialized world of knowledge.”
“As Kenneth Arrow has said about Amartya Sen, ‘His intellectual contributions in so many fields would constitute a specialty in each field separately.’ In that vein I conceived of Amartya Sen as a person whose intellectual vistas range from Sanskrit to modern political movements and his greatness consists of the amalgam of such disparate topics and fields. This Universal perspective of knowledge is rather rare in today’s world,” he said.
“Moreover, Professor Amartya Sen’s life story, with the early influence of Rabindranath Tagore, to his fight with cancer while he was at college to his fundamental contributions for the socially and economically deprived of the world, is fascinating material. I thought it would be a great challenge to integrate his world views with his work, to look at it as one unifying narrative,” Ghosh said.
“Amartya Sen documentary is a must-see for the new generation. Professor Sen is a towering intellectual giant whose life and work is set to influence a whole new generation of youngsters all over the world. The documentary by Suman Ghosh is a very laudable initiative to provide and insight into the mind of a living genius,” said Sundeep Bhutoria, Trustee, Prabha Khaitan Foundation.