Penalised for being unladylike?

The Asian Age.

Entertainment, Bollywood

The CBFC is far from impressed with the film that has been praised at several international film festivals.

A still from Lipstick Under My Burkha.

It may have gathered international acclaim such as Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality, but Lipstick Under My Burkha is fighting a battle just to be screened in India. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is far from impressed with the film that has been praised at several international film festivals.

The film, which stars celebrated actors such as Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkana Sen Sharma, has been denied a release in the country. In a letter addressed to the film’s producer, Prakash Jha, the CBFC states, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused (sic).”

CBFC’s letter

Recently, the CBFC had refused a certificate to Haramkhor but the film later got a green signal after the makers took the film to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. The Lipstick Under My Burkha team, too, is determined to ensure that the film is showcased across the country. Stating that the “decision to refuse certification to our film is an assault on women’s rights,” director Alankrita Shrivastava is not backing down. “For too long the popular narrative has perpetuated patriarchy by objectifying women or minimising their role in a narrative. So a film like Lipstick Under My Burkha that challenges that dominant narrative, is being attacked because it presents a female point of view. Do women not have the right of freedom of expression?  Why are we as a country so scared of confronting the real voices of women?” questions Alankrita, who last helmed Turning 30!!!

Sushant Singh:
The entire episode is mind-boggling.  All of us are tired of the CBFC and its whims. The minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore had assured that there will be no ‘censor board’ only a board for film ‘certification’. And here, the CBFC has refused to certify the film. Do they think that the Indian audience is so immature that they are not ready for a film? Besides, the reasons that they have given are so obnoxious. What is wrong with sex? Are we asexual? What is so dirty about women, especially Indian women thinking about sex? I ask these gentlemen and ladies in CBFC who keep talking about bhartiya sanskriti and culture, to read scriptures and plays by Kalidas, which beautifully depict the desires of a woman. It’s surprising that the film has been receiving applause across the globe but its country of origin refuses to even acknowledge it.  It’s going to be on the Internet or Netflix anyway.

Tisca Chopra:
The CBFC’s actions are laughable. Any board which feels society needs censoring from outside is treating the audiences like children. We need certification, not censorship. At the discretion of the parents and people themselves, the audience can choose what they want. Unwillingly, the CBFC is creating an unequal system where the most real, honest and gritty content will move to the Internet and it will be a loss for films themselves. Lipstick Under My Burkha is a brave narrative that finally talks about how some women may feel and think. Censoring it is ridiculous.

Konkona Sen Sharma:
The CBFC’s decision is very unfortunate, considering that it can be an adult film; adults can watch the film if they choose to. Why can’t they just give it an A certificate?

The reasons are also so bizarre! Something on the lines of ‘it’s lady oriented and about their fantasy.’ I don’t understand how that’s the problem. I have no idea where we are heading and this is certainly not forward. I think some guidelines need to be examined from time to time. It’s important for people to see this kind of content otherwise, there will only be homogenised content, which is often catered to male fantasy. Why can’t we see the lives of four women in Bhopal? Some of it may be adult content, but most of us are adults and we can decide for ourselves what kind of content we want to watch.