Thursday, July 13, 2017

A voice that keeps dialogue alive

The Telegraph:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.... The Argumentative Indian ends with this Tagore poem, narrated by Victor Banerjee. This poem has had a deep influence on Professor Sen; when he was young, he would keep this poem in front of his study table. It has also influenced me and millions of Indians all over the world.

This poem is so important and relevant, particularly in the current situation not only in India but all over the world. I would like people to carefully read it again. Given the controversy that has happened about The Argumentative Indian, it so aptly describes what needs to be avoided.

People might interpret it otherwise but I didn't want any political colour. I made the documentary very objectively. Whatever Amartya Sen said, it was his perspective of the situation, and that was the point of the documentary.

Given the scenario, I feel Amartya Sen is a voice of opposition, not in a political sense, but a voice of opposition that keeps this dialogue alive in a democracy. And that is how the progress of democracy happens. Now if that is tampered with, in a larger perspective, that does not bode well for the country. This dialectic is so important.

Ironically, the name of the film is The Argumentative Indian, and this argument is being stalled. I feel my film stands vindicated, given the attitude I encountered from the censor board.

The first part of the documentary was shot in 2002. I shot again and re-edited the entire thing in 2017 because of what was going on in the world in the last year or so. A lot of Sen's principal work, throughout his life, has been on liberty, equality and justice... and I thought they were under attack. Making this documentary was my response to that.

Initially, I was a bit shocked by what I was told by the censor board. I found it really bizarre at one level. But now I have come to terms with it. I believe I live in a functioning democracy. I am optimistic about things and I will follow the natural process and let the 'argument' be alive.
And we as a country will progress in a better direction.

Such things happen and we have to take them in our stride and try to keep raising our voice. There is a process, I will follow it and see where it leads me.

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