Time To Unravel The “Burkha” – What And What Not To Censor!!

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Not a single year passes in our country without at least one movie getting banned and a large number of movies getting regressively censored. So long is the list of banned movies in India that Wikipedia has a separate page for it. Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world in terms of the number of movies it produces in a year. All kinds of hit, flop, romantic, action, comedy and historical movies are a part of Indian cinema but there is one another brand of movies which are there but are deliberately kept hidden and out of our reach. These are films that indulge in strong (read bold) language, suggestive (read vulgar) scenes, gender taboos, Kashmir issues, religion and basically movies which are way ahead of its time. There is an incessant list of banned movies where from bra shots in Siddarth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif’s starrer Baar Baar Dekho to lines like “I have the Indian figure” in Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has repeatedly resorted to chopping off whatever it deems un-sanskaari. With all the banned movies ranging from ‘The Bandit Queen’ to ‘The Pink Mirror’, ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ tops the list.
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‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is a movie about the journey of four women of different ages exploring their freedom amidst all the restrictions imposed upon them. It is a Prakash Jha film starring Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plait Borthakur in pivotal roles. The movie has been directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, who had earlier directed ‘Turning 30’. The film has already won awards, including the Oxfam Award at the Mumbai Film Festival for ‘Best Film on Gender Equality’ and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival but our CBFC, irrespective of its award winning story line and direction, will ban it because apparently ” the story is lady-oriented showcasing their fantasy above life. There is an effective take on marital rape. It challenges religious orthodoxy.There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society and the most important reason being its contribution in the fight for gender equality”. Our system is such where a movie challenging a certain stereotype is rigorously and immediately banned while that same system approves the screening of movies like ‘Mastizaade’, ‘Grand Masti’ which highly objectifies women with its double meaning dialogues and misogynistic, sexist and homophobic jokes. Believe me, no superpower has ever been evolved to explain this hypocrisy. For CBFC, sex-is-that-dark-deed-which-must-not-be-named. And a film on women’s sexuality? How dare you!

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Its high time, that we, the coming generation of this country, gets away with these orthodox and ridiculous thinking. The real issue of such movies is is the systematic suppression of women‚Äôs voices and the throttling of the freedom of expression. And we shall refuse to succumb. In a country where there is so much discrimination against women, so much violence against women, isn‚Äôt it essential to listen to women‚Äôs stories from their point of view?. Think about it. Is it all right to consider India as a free democratic space where a film that is being showcased at various international film festivals is not being given the green signal back at home by the censor board. In my opinion, to give ‘Lipstick under my burkha’ an ‘A’ certificate is understandable, but to ban it altogether is patently unconstitutional. And ridiculous, to say the least.

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