The Central Board of Film Certification has “refused” to clear the award-winning film Lipstick Under My Burkha, saying the “story is lady oriented” and “their fantasy above life”.
The movie, which speaks about the aspirations of women, is directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by director Prakash Jha. It has won several awards in the film festival circuit, among them the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Shot in Bhopal, Lipstick Under My Burkha is about four women from different sections of society seeking freedom and to fulfill their desires.
A letter from the CBFC to Prakash Jha Productions said “the film has been viewed by the Examining Committee and the board has come to the conclusion that a certificate cannot be issued for its exhibition”. A portion of a letter by a CBFC regional officer — circulated on Twitter by Bollywood celebrities — listed “contanious (sic) sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography” as some of the reasons behind the denial of the certificate. The letter also mentioned the film having “a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society”.
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Director Shrivastava said: “I believe the decision to refuse certification to our film is an assault on women’s rights. 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, which challenges that dominant narrative, is being attacked because it presents a female point of view.”
CBFC chairperson Pahalaj Nihalani said the board was doing its job. He said the moviemakers had the option of approaching the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.