Sen screen test in Friday plex splash

The Argumentative Indian  rare documentary to get commercial release in city

By Arindam Chatterjee and Priyanka Roy in Calcutta
  • Published 8.03.18
Amartya Sen

Calcutta: A new star joins the box-office cast this Friday: Amartya Sen.

The Argumentative Indian, a documentary on the Nobel laureate by Suman Ghosh, is set to have a commercial release at INOX and Nandan like a feature film does. It is common in the West for a documentary to get a commercial release - Fahrenheit 9/11 grossed more worldwide than many feature films - but The Argumentative Indian will be a first for Calcutta in terms of scale.

The documentary, shot in two parts in 2002 and 2017, chronicles the life and work of Sen.

Ghosh is "pleasurably curious" about how many people will turn up to watch his film. "I am not expecting a huge turnout because it is an esoteric documentary. But then, it is a documentary on Amartya Sen," he said. "I have never seen this happen (a documentary being screened at a multiplex). I hope it is a sign of the changing times."

INOX is certain Amartya Sen on the big screen will generate interest. " The Argumentative Indian is getting a limited release at INOX theatres, with the documentary playing at our Quest, Forum and City Centre Salt Lake properties from this Friday. This is possibly the first time we are playing a documentary at our plexes.... We decided to do so because Amartya Sen is a commanding public figure and a film on his life and work is sure to generate interest. Also, unlike other documentaries, its duration (60 minutes) is almost like that of a full-length feature and we will play it like a regular film," said Subhasis Ganguli, regional director (east), INOX.

The documentary could not be released as planned last July because Ghosh had refused to follow a diktat by the Central Board of Film Certification, then under Pahlaj Nihalani, to beep out certain words such as "cow" and "Gujarat". The word "Gujarat" comes up in a lecture Sen had delivered at Cornell University in 2002.

The current chairman, Prasoon Joshi, watched the documentary on January 4 and the CBFC conveyed to Ghosh in an email a day later that The Argumentative Indian would get a "U" certificate on condition that he remove or beep out "Gujarat". On January 12, Ghosh accepted the recommendation.

"Documentaries can be enlightening and informative. It is a different thing to watch it in a theatre since the engagement with the film is undivided and direct," said filmmaker Aditya Vikram Sengupta.