by P. Banerjee,
In 21st century era, when the whole world is talking about gender equality and women rights, it is shameful that there are some people who are thinking otherwise. It is surprising that the educated board members of CBFC on February 24, 2017 refused to certify the movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ because it is a film with feminist ideology.
‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ 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. The film has been part of the official selection at the Stockholm International Film Festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, and the POFF Black Nights Tallinn film festival.
(Source: The Quint)
The film directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Praksah Jha is about sexual rights of women and their desire for freedom from their stifled and trapped life. The letter issued by the Central Board of Film Certification clearly states that the movie cannot be released because, “it is a lady oriented movie that puts ‘Fantasy above Life’. It contains sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of the society”.
The Director of CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani addressing ANI about the controversy said that while he supports women empowerment, he doesn’t believe that the film is taking the right approach. He also said that he would “not succumb to social media pressure”.
He said, “Objection is on content not on word ‘burkha’ in title. He is not against women empowerment, but the projection (is) not right.”
CBFC does not want to portray the reality on the silver screen, but the stereotype is the male point of view of the society where it is okay to objectify women.
In an article by Alankrita Shrivastava published by The Guardian, the director vowed to make more women-oriented films and wrote:
‘The popular Indian cinema narrative is dominated by the male gaze. Women are objectified, there to fulfill the desires of men, or they play simply peripheral, subservient parts. Women are either heroic and pure – like goddesses – or they are vamps, to be shamed and discarded. There is very little space for realistic portrayals of ordinary women who laugh and cry, who are flawed and funny, who have desires and dreams of their own. Women who are struggling to gain agency over their own lives and bodies. In short, real women’.
In national news channels, CBFC was accused of certifying movies like Masti, Grand Masti, Mastizaade etc. which showed women as sex objects and men freely expressing their sexual desires. However, when it comes to movies like ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ it is a different scenario.
The scenario was the same for Deepa Mehta’s movie ‘Fire’ as it projected lesbian relationship; ‘Bandit Queen’ for explicit sexual content, nudity and abusive language; ‘Margarita with a straw’ was asked to cut down few scenes; ‘India’s Daughter’ documentary based on the infamous rape incident of December 16, 2012 was not projected in order to curb the negative and legitimate response from the public and the list goes on.
The systematic banning of such movies again and again is to attack basic freedom of all the independent Indian women, and to demean all the struggles they have gone through over centuries to build their identity.
Almost seven years ago at the 66th session of the General Assembly at the United Nations most of the speakers promoted gender equality. South Africa’s delegate said, “Without women’s empowerment and gender equality, societies will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and their full development potential.” From 1 January 2016, The United Nations officially introduced Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which is even more ambitious set of goals to banish a whole host of social ills by 2030.
However, in India, such hypocrisy exists till-date, where on one hand individuals talk about ‘women empowerment’, but prevent a woman from telling her story. It is not surprising to know that these so-called aristocrats dismiss debates on marital rape.
Stand up! Speak up! Let the world know that we are not the weaker section of the society, but the face of power. We are individual person who are not defined by the norms of the society. Raise your voice against social stereotypes and discriminations, as we are the ‘Agents of Change’.