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Sen and the Censor

 Pahlaj Nihalani has become quite a stellar attraction with his censorial scissors. Since he became chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in January 2015, he has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons. He has raised a new issue objecting to “double meaning any kind of word.” He has no interest in the laurels that Indian cinema has won on the international scene. Nihalani disapproved of scenes and words used in ‘Udta Punjab’ and did his best to stop the release of ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. ‘The Shyam Benegal Committee said that the CBFC should only certify and not censor films. Now the dictatorial and unimaginative scissors of the Censors have stretched to a documentary which simply cannot corrupt people’s morals. It is a documentary about the Noble Laureate economist, Amartya Sen called, ‘The Argumentative Mind.’  It is not even a biopic like ‘Azhar’ which did have some controversial scenes denigrating a cricketer who seemed to be Ravi Shastri.

Of course, an argumentative genius like Amartya Sen is a centre of controversy. Does the CBFC even abhor controversy of argumentation? He is considered fit for censorial cuts when he uses words like ‘Gujarat,’ ‘Hindu India’, ‘cow’, ‘Hindutva view of India.’ Even the print or electronic media are not persecuted for using such expressions. Are just words considered objectionable like swear words in ‘Udta Punjab?’ The only good thing is that Nihalani has aroused public interest in a documentary about an eminent intellectual. 


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