Statement issued on February 27
THE All India Democratic Women’s Association strongly condemns the decision of the Censor Board of Film Certification to deny certification to Alankrita Srivastava and Prakash Jha’s film ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’, which depicts the range of problems that women in India are facing today, and their struggle to overcome these obstacles. The much acclaimed film has won the Best Film for Women’s Equality Award at the Mumbai Film Festival and the ‘Spirit of Asia’ Award in the Tokyo Film Festival. By denying it certification, the Censor Board, which has the tacit support of the government of India, has once again displayed its intolerance for plurality of views and creative rendering of social realities.
The Censor Board has reportedly objected to the film as being “lady oriented”, and for containing abusive words! This and other reasons that have been cited by the CBFC chairperson Nihalani for denying certification to the film reveal a patriarchal and conservative mindset which cannot accept women’s agency in breaking stereotypes, and challenging the old order. Depicting women who have the courage to defy social norms and exercise their choice in their quest for equality should be welcomed in a democratic and gender just society. In contrast, the decision of the Board reflects the Sangh Parivar’s ideology which defines women as subordinate to men, and conceptualises a secondary role for her in society. Apart from violating the basic rights of the film makers to freedom of expression, the Censor Board has played a regressive and anti women role, in the name of upholding and preserving Indian culture, which is constitutionally untenable.
AIDWA demands that the CBFC should immediately take steps to ensure that the film is certified for screening. The rights of creative film makers should be safeguarded. The Modi government has a responsibility to ensure that institutions like the CBFC do not become implementing agencies of the Sangh Parivar ideology, thereby undermining women’s emancipation and right to equality in a democratic framework.