CBFC Doesn’t Approve ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, Alankrita Reacts
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), doesn’t approve of filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha. The film, which has been awarded the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality and has been selected for several international film festivals, unfortunately doesn’t meet the CBFC’s standards of a film that can be watched by us Indians.
In a letter dated 25 January to the producers, the reasons given by the Board for refusing to certify the film is as follows:
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). (sic)Central Board of Film Certification
Speaking to The Quint, Alankrita, who is currently at the Glasgow Film Festival, calls the CBFC’s decision an anachronism and demands to know if women’s voices aren’t important:
I have full faith and conviction that my producer, Mr Prakash Jha and I will be able to bring Lipstick Under My Burkha to the Indian audiences. The film is an honest story about four ordinary women. The CBFC’s decision is an anachronism really. We are living in 2017, with full access to everything on the internet. Why should a film that tells a story of female desire be stifled? Don’t women have dreams? Don’t they want things? Aren’t our voices important? Don’t our stories need to be told? In a culture where men have systematically controlled the popular narrative to perpetuate a culture where women are objectified, sidelined or demeaned, why should a film that presents an alternative point of view not have the right to be shown? Why is it okay for women to be shown as mere objects of male fantasy, but not women with agency over themselves?
I will fight this out till the very end, whatever it takes. Because this is not about Lipstick under My Burkha. It is about the continued stifling of women’s voices in our country. Ironically, Lipstick Under My Burkha has won the Oxfam Award for the Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival, and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. The film has been part of the official selection at Stockholm International Film Festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, the POFF black Nights Tallinn film festival.
Currently I am in Glasgow as the film is one one the only 10 films in the international competition at the Glasgow Film Festival, it is showing at the Miami Film Festival in a few days. It is in the international competition of only 8 features at the International Women’s Film Festival at Creteil, Paris, France. It then shows at the London Asian Film Festival. And there are many more festivals that are yet to officially announce. So clearly, there is a problem of mindset. If the film is being celebrated the world over, why should Indian audiences be denied the right to watch it? In a country that reeks of patriarchy, shouldn’t we be encouraging more stories of and by women, rather than trying to shut them up?Alankrita Shrivastava
The CBFC’s reasons for not certifying the film is being criticised on Twitter:
Alankrita along with her producer Prakash Jha, are expected to take the battle over the certification of Lipstick Under My Burkha till the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) if needed. While it might be difficult to change the CBFC’s mindset, here’s hoping the film manages to win its battle with the Board just like Haraamkhor did last year.