More than the fact that it deals with stories of four women trying to explore their sexuality, debutante Alankrita Srivastva’s Lipstick Under My Burkha has garnered attention for its longstanding issue with the censor board. Just a month ago, the country’s Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), decided that the film can be issued an adult certificate, equivalent to an NC-17 rating. FCAT’s order came after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused a certificate to pass the film, saying that it portrays “women in bad light.”
A few days ago, the makers announced the film’s release date, July 21. So, when it looked like that film had left the controversy involving CBFC behind, came its poster, showing a middle finger and also a lipstick designed on it. Of course, the speculation began that it was a display of rebellion against the censor board.
But according to producer Ekta Kapoor, who has joined the film as a presenter, says that the message is not for the board but for the society, who has on many levels asked the woman to prove her ‘womanhood’ and ‘morality’. Speaking on the film’s official trailer launch, Ekta said making the controversy around the film just about the CBFC is akin to trivialising the issue.
“I have no issue with CBFC. My problem is with the society, which talks about the same thing but in its own way. So, CBFC is mirroring the society. We will trivialise this whole thing if we make it about CBFC. It’s a larger issue. If you talk to a woman she will give you at least five incidents in a day, 5-10 in a month for sure where she had to give proofs of being a ‘woman’, maybe at a male-dominated work place or when she has to try to come across as a smarter because she is good looking.”
Elaborating on it, she asserted that the resistance from the CBFC is a small part an ideology, which is irrespective of gender. “There are many such instances and women learn to combat them from a very young age. So, this finger, this lipstick is for the society that doesn’t allow us to come out and curbing our voice. So, it’s not about CBFC. It’s about an ideology, it’s not about men again. I am going to do a campaign ‘lipstick for men’. There are a lot of men who have made us the women we are today, like my father. There are many women who want a son to be born and hence put their daughter-in-law through abortion. So, it’s about the ideology not men and women.”
The producer said that Lipstick Under My Burkha was the first film that forced her to have a conversation with the woman in her. The result of this introspection was that she decided to back the film, which aims to throw light on something women are conditioned to not talk about.
“When I went to watch it, I thought it would be pretentious, very arty… But after I saw it, I felt it was a stark entertaining film. It was right there, staring me in the face and I never had a more honest conversation with myself then I had after watching the film. We are so scared to feel, that now it is our second nature to be shy about our sexual fantasies and sexual desires. The film stared at me and asked me a question. As a producer you have made financial decision but it’s time that as a woman you made a decision from your heart and I did that.”