‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ denied certificate for being “lady-oriented”

The censor board has refused to certify the award-winning film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, saying that its “story is lady oriented” and “their fantasy above life.” The feminist drama produced by filmmaker Prakash Jha and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, stars Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak among others.

A letter from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) listed the reasons for denying a certificate in a letter, which is doing the rounds of the internet. “The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society,” reads a portion of the letter by a CBFC regional officer.

Several celebrities, including Pooja Bhatt, Farhan Akhtar and Vivek Agnihotri have condemned the development as ridiculous, while the director has called the decision an “assault on women’s rights.”

“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,” she said in a statement from Glasgow, where the movie is being screened.

‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ chronicles the secret lives of four women of different ages in a small town in India and their different kinds of aspirations. The film has won several awards in various film festivals, including 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.

Once the CBFC issues a formal letter, the director and producer will approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), which hears appeals against the decisions of censor board.