Why Censor Board refused to certify film “Lipstick Under My Burkha”

Lipstick Under My Burkha Lipstick Under My BurkhaThe director of Lipstick Under My Burkha, Alankrita Shrivastava, criticised CBFC’s decision saying it is an “assault on women’s rights” and she will fight till the end to get her film released. Besides Konkona and Ratna Pathak, Lipstick Under My Burkha also features Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey and Shashank Arora. The decision has attracted criticism from Bollywood celebrities like Farhan Akhtar, Vishal Dadlani and Renuka Shahane.

The release of filmmaker Prakash Jha’s upcoming production Lipstick Under My Burkha, starring Konkona Sensharma and Ratna Pathak Shah, has hit a roadblock after the censor board refused to certify the film.

Listing the reasons for denial of certificate, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in a letter, posted by Bollywood celebrities online, wrote, “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 (sic).”

The film’s director Alankrita Shrivastava criticised CBFC’s decision saying it is an “assault on women’s rights” and she will fight till the end to get her film released. “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’, that challenges that dominant narrative is being attacked because it presents a female point of view. Do women not have the right of freedom of expression?,” she said in a statement.

The director said she is determined to fight the decision till the end to ensure that Indian audiences watch movie. “The real issue is the systematic suppression of women’s voices and the throttling of freedom of expression.”

The film 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.

Meanwhile, CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani has confirmed the the board’s decision to refuse certificate to the film and said that makers can approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) to get the film released.

“The film was not cleared by examining committee and then it went to revising committee which also declined certification. The makers can now approach FCAT and get it cleared from there,” said Nihalani.

This is not the first time Jha has faced problem with the censor board – the director was asked to make several cuts in the film and was also given an ‘A’ certificate. Jha later approached the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal and got a clean chit for the Priyanka Chopra-starrer.

When asked to respond to Shrivastava’s claim that the decision was an attempt to curb freedom of expression, Nihalani said, “It is not the first film in the history of censor board to not get certification. We don’t go out and tell which film gets certificate and which does not. It is their freedom of expression.

“Prakash Jha is an experienced filmmaker and he successfully managed to get his last film Jai Gangaajal released without cuts. It is his right to approach the tribunal and the court to get his film cleared.”

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