After a long battle with India’s censor board, a Hindi film Lipstick Under My Burkha, exploring female sexuality, is finally getting released in India. This release is considered “a victory for women’s rights” as its director Alankrita Shrivastava commented.
Five months after the country’s censor board refused to certify it for being “lady oriented, the film is set to hit theatres on July 21, Friday. It tells the story of the secret lives and desires of four women, including a college student, played by Plabita Borthakur, who wears a burkha, and a 55-year-old, played by Ratna Pathak, who rediscovers a sex life after the death of her husband.
“I feel that the release is not just about Lipstick but is also a victory and celebration that women can tell their stories,” Alankrita Shrivastava told AFP.
“It’s not just about my film and our cast and crew. If it had not released (then) that would have set a precedent that it’s okay to gag 50 percent of the population,” Shrivastava added.
In February, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) of India generated uproar when it blocked the film saying it was “lady oriented, their fantasy above life”. The ruling was widely criticised on social media. The board, which has a history of barring movies it deems too racy or at risk of causing religious offence, complained of “sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography (phone sex)”. It also implied the film might offend Muslims.
Shrivastava was outraged at the decision and challenged it at an appeals tribunal, which in April cleared the film for release, albeit with a few cuts, such as reducing the length of some sex scenes.
In the meantime, the film screened at more that 35 film festivals worldwide, it won an award last year at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Shrivastava said she was “excited, happy and also a little nervous” about the film finally showing in cinemas in its home country.