Lipstick Under My Burkha, which has failed to get clearance from India’s censor board, will open the 17th edition of the prestigious New York Indian Film Festival here, the oldest Indian film festival in the US.
The Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah-starrer will be screened on the opening night of the annual film festival that begins on April 30. Aroon Shivdasani, Executive & Artistic Director of the not-for-profit arts organization Indo-American Arts Council, which organizes the film festival, voiced regret that the movie has been denied a certificate in India, expressing hope the movie will raise awareness about the reality that women have a right to their freedom of expressions and desires.
“Women are on a constant march for equality in every sphere, around the globe. Indian society needs to understand this concept without mere lip service,” Shivdasani told PTI. She said the female characters in the film “depict normal cravings for sexuality, freedom of expression and movement but they have to be stealthy and secretive in experiencing those few hours of freedom.”
She questioned why women and their desires should be “stifled and repressed” while men are free to do as they wish. “I hope ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ will make people aware of the reality of these lives and perhaps understand their desires,” she added.
The film, directed by Alankita Shrivastava, premiered at the Tokyo and Mumbai Film Festivals, where it won the Spirit of Asia Prize and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality.
India’s Central Board of Film Certification refused to certify the film because it claimed the story was too “lady-oriented.” The festival’s centerpiece film is the New York premiere of Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla’s critically-acclaimed documentary “An Insignificant Man” about Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. The week-long festival will close with the North American premiere of Milind Dhaimade’s “You Are My Sunday”, a slice-of-life comedy about five close friends who struggle to find a place to play soccer in Mumbai every Sunday.
The festival will also showcase premieres of 44 shorts, documentaries and feature films as well as pay a tribute to India’s iconic actor late Om Puri through the Sen Sharma-directed “A Death In The Gunj.”
Also in the line-up is screening of “Ventilator” and “Sarvaan” produced by actor Priyanka Chopra.