That’s right. The movie has been denied release in the country because ‘the story is lady oriented and their fantasy above life’. It is unclear how the CBFC concluded that women wanting freedom, or cursing or even exploring their sexuality as a ‘fantasy’. There are ‘contanious sexual scenes and abusive words, audio pornography, and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society [sic]’.
Watch Video| WHAT?! CBFC Denies Certification To ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ For Being ‘Lady Oriented’
A simple plot about four women from different walks of life, living in a small town — exploring their sexuality and seeking freedom has been denied under certain guidelines like 1(i), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i). In layman’s terms, the guidelines are that human sensibilities should not be offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity, scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown, scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are also not presented.
Enraged Prakash Jha, who spoke to Mirror, said, “As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope. Films should challenge the status quo which is what Lipstick Under My Burkha perhaps does and I believe our audience deserve to watch it.”
The Bollywood fraternity has also shown its support to the film. Actor Farhan Akhtar took to Twitter and wrote, “Below is the reason CBFC listed for denying #LipstickUnderMyBurkha a release. Keep your barf bag ready..” Pooja Bhatt has also said, “CBFC consists of frightened people, only interested in securing their jobs.They won’t take a stand & are happy if one approaches revising com.”
See | Celebrities show their support for Lipstick Under My Burkha
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) February 23, 2017
Not the first time this has happened. Makers must approach revising committee & tribunal thereafter.Censor board wants to pass the buck. http://t.co/ny6xkrxGVp
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) February 23, 2017
The director, Alankrita Shrivastava is currently in Glasgow, for the Glasgow Film Festival. She also tweeted the official letter they received from CBFC and finds it ironic that an award winning film is denied certification.
See | Alankrita’s Tweets
— Alankrita (@alankrita601) February 23, 2017
— Alankrita (@alankrita601) February 23, 2017
How a woman living her life on her terms, when filmed from the perspective of a woman is degrading other women is a concept that we as mere citizens, who also happen to be women might not understand. However, we have the CBFC to thank for beautifully pointing this out and for forcing us to miss, what might as well be the movie of the year.
The examining committee of the CBFC refused to certify Jha’s latest film, Lipstick Under My Burkha citing multiple reasons including abusive language and “women’s fantasies”. “The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society,” reads the letter from the CBFC.
Lipstick Under My Burkha features actors Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plait Borthakur. Set in small-town India, it chronicles the secret lives of four women trying to cull out a sense of freedom amid numerous constraints. Director Alankrita Shrivastava, who is currently at the Glasgow Film Festival for the premiere of the film on February 24 said that CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani had watched the film with the Revising Committee after which she was called in and informed that the committee unanimously decided to not certify the film. “It’s a feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy. I think that’s why they don’t want to certify it. As a filmmaker, I stand by the story and will fight for it till the end,” she asserted
Early last year, after the Examining Committee had failed to arrive at a consensus on the certification of his cop-drama, Jai Gangaajal, featuring Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Jha had approached the Revising Committee which had offered him a ‘U/A’ certificate with 11 cuts, which included editing out cuss words like ‘saala’ and ‘ghanta’ which the filmmaker argued were a part of everyday conversations in the hinterlands. He refused to comply with the diktats and appealed to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) that passed the film with a U/A certificate and no cuts. The National Award-winner’s battle with the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) continues.
In January 2017, Jha’s new production, Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, was screened for the Censor Board’s Examining Committee and Jha was informed that the film cannot be certified. The reasons stated in a letter read: “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i).”
An enraged Jha who is presently in London, told Mirror, “As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope. Films should challenge the status quo which is what Lipstick Under My Burkha perhaps does and I believe our audience deserve to watch it.”
Set in small town India, the film featuring Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur, chronicles the secret lives of four women in search of a little freedom. Alankrita, who is at the Glasgow Film Festival for the film’s premiere on February 24, informs that CBFC Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani had watched the film with the Revising Committee after which she was called in and told that they had unanimously decided to not certify the film. “It’s a feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy. I think that’s why they don’t want to certify it. As a filmmaker, I stand by the story and will fight for it till the end,” she asserts.
Lipstick Under My Burkha has won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Alankrita, who assisted Jha on Raajneeti and Apaharan before turning director with his Turning 30!!! adds that they are waiting for the official letter from the Revising Committee after which they will apply to FCAT. “I am travelling to some more festivals and hopefully I will have a hearing by the time I return in March,” she says.
Nihalani when contacted said he did not wish to comment on the subject after the Board had unanimously refused to clear it. When it was pointed out that the official letter from the Revising Committee has yet to reach Jha, he said shortly, “It’s the producer’s job to get it from the office.” Earlier, the CBFC had objected to the premise of the Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer Haraamkhor which touched on a teacher-student illicit romance, refusing to certify it. The makers approached the FCAT which cleared the film with a ‘U/A’ certificate.
While Lipstick Under My Burkha may face censorship in India, it has already earned accolades at the Mumbai Film Festival (movies screened there do not require a Censor certificate) and at festivals abroad.
It won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at MAMI while winning the Spirit of Asia award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Here’s the film’s trailer which features Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra, and Plabita Borthakur in leading roles.