Award-Winning Movie Denied Certification by CBFC

"Do women not have the right of freedom of expression?"

The Central Board of Film Certification has received ire once again after it refused certification to Lipstick Under My Burkha. Above all, one more reason for the denial is said to be a 'fantasy above life. "There are [continuous] sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused".

The Censor Board's official notice signed by the regional officer.

The cast includes stars of alternative cinema like Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak, apart from Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Sushant Singh and Vaibbhav Tatwawdi.

The letter was sent last month and came to light this week after Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar tweeted about it. Lipstick Under My Burkha is directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and tells the secret lives of four women - including a college student who wears a burka, and a 55-year-old who rediscovers a sex life after the death of her husband. Whatever that might mean must be known only to the CBFC chief Pehlaj Nihalani. Director Alankrita Shrivastava told Mumbai Mirror, "It's a feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy. Their job is to certify a film, not stop its release", she argues. It shows how petty the thought process of people running the CBFC is. "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.

An enraged Jha spoke to the daily Mumbai Mirror, which quoted him as saying, "As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope. I am more determined than ever before to ensure that "Lipstick Under My Burkha" can be watched by Indian audiences".

Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha, the movie won the Spirit of Asia award a year ago at the Tokyo International Film Festival and received the Oxfam award for best film on gender equality at the Mumbai Film Festival, Variety notes.

The film fraternity also extended its support to Lipstick Under My Burkha.

  • Salvatore Jensen