KOLKATA: A controversy has erupted over a Bengali film, with the censor board directing that certain expressions involving words 'Honu' and 'Sitey' be muted to avoid hurting people's sentiments, and some industry honchos objecting to the imposition, terming the decision as "completely illogical".
'Ashare Goppo', starring actors Rudranil Ghosh, Abir Chatterjee and Payel Sarkar, is a comedy film directed by Arindam Chakraborty.
Shot way back in 2013, the film was held up for eight years due to financial constraints and distribution-related problems.
An official of Central Board Film Certification's regional office here told PTI on Wednesday that four phrases -- including 'Honu' and 'Ami Sitey' -- were found derogatory with the "potential to hurt sentiments".
"We have asked the makers to mute these phrases - two of them used in songs," he said.
Flustered over the directive, the filmmaker, also a state government official, maintained that the dialogues were integral to the film.
"The CBFC directive is totally illogical. As a filmmaker, I would not wish to chop any part of the script that is integral to the narrative," Chakraborty stated.
Ghosh, who plays a lead character in the film, said that the two sides should arrive at a mutual decision.
The actor, who had unsuccessfully contested Bhowanipore election on a BJP ticket, also said, "A director usually feels strongly about his entire work, considers it as his baby. The CBFC, however, has certain yardsticks, going by which it takes a decision."
"As far as I remember, the dialogues involving these words were uttered in a scene where the characters portrayed by me and Abir land up in the shooting sequence of a mythological production," he explained.
The censor's decision might have been prompted by some considerations on its part, the BJP member pointed out.
"Having said that, phrases with double meaning have been used in Bengali films in the past, too," Ghosh added.
Slamming the CBFC, actor Kaushik Sen rued that people taking such calls at the censor board "neither understand films well, nor our Bengali culture".
'Honu' is a word that is often used by Bengali people to describe a person who has a superiority complex, he clarified.
Notably, the word 'Honu' is also sometimes used as the shortened form of 'Honuman' (grey langur).
In a similar vein, director Atanu Ghosh said that use of words 'Sita' or 'Sitey' did not always have to have a sacrilegious context.
"The censor board cannot take away the freedom of artistic expression. Muting words like 'Honu' and 'Ami Sitey' makes no sense. Can the board regulate and monitor our everyday conversations on roads and public places, the use of cuss words and expletives? In my film 'Takhon Teish', made years ago, there were certain words which might have sexist overtones but the script required that.
"The board should never act as our moral guardian," the 'Binisutoy' maker said.
In the past, too, decisions by the CBFC office in Kolkata had generated controversies.
In 2017, the board has asked the directors of 'Dekh Kemon Lage' to mute the word 'Radha' in a song sequence.
The film was given a U/A certificate only after the line was removed from the song.
The board had in the same year also asked Suman Ghosh, the director of 'The Argumentative Indian', a documentary on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, to mute words such as 'Gujarat', 'Cow', 'Hindutva view of India' and 'Hindu India'.