A still from Lipstick Under My Burkha and Alankrita Shrivastava
"This decision insults the intelligence of the audience," retorts Alankrita Shrivastava, director of Lipstick Under My Burkha, which has been rejected by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for public viewing. The multiple reasons, which hardly makes sense, read, "The story is lady oriended, 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 (sic)."
Alankrita, who is currently in Scotland where Lipstick… is among 10 films competing in the international category at the Glasgow Film Festival, says, "In a country that reeks of patriarchy, shouldn't we be encouraging more stories of and by women? The CBFC will happily pass so-called item numbers because they are for entertainment purpose; they don't think those songs objectify women."
A grab of CBFC's letter
The film, starring Konkana Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah, revolves around four women — a burqa-clad college-goer, a young beautician, a mother of three and a 55-year-old widow, who rediscovers her sexuality. It will travel to the Miami Film Festival and International Women's Film Festival at Creteil, Paris, next. "It is ironic that the film is being celebrated all over the world except on home turf. It shows how petty the thought process of people running the CBFC is. Their job is to certify a film, not stop its release," she argues.
The examining panel of CBFC, which watched the film in January, apparently included two female members, who weren't too sure of passing the film and insisted on going with the majority. The film was then screened before the revising committee on Monday, with Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani part of it, but was rejected again. "I will approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (final authority for certification) and fight till the end for my film because the decision to block its release is an assault on women's rights," adds Alankrita.