Vic­tory Lip­stick Un­der My Burkha hits screens

The Guardian Weekly - - International News - Michael Safi

An award-win­ning Hindi film ini­tially banned from cin­e­mas for be­ing too “lady-ori­ented” has made its de­but across In­dia in what its di­rec­tor hailed as a ma­jor vic­tory for women.

Lip­stick Un­der My Burkha, which de­picts the se­cret world – in­clud­ing the sex lives – of four small-town In­dian women, was re­leased last week­end af­ter months of wran­gling with the coun­try’s cen­sors.

Its di­rec­tor, Alankrita Shri­vas­tava, said she felt “numb” that her film was fi­nally screen­ing, five months af­ter she re­ceived a let­ter from the Cen­tral Board of Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ad­vis­ing it would be re­fused clas­si­fi­ca­tion. The let­ter, rid­dled with spell­ing and gram­mat­i­cal er­rors, said the movie fea­tured “abu­sive words” and “au­dio pornog­ra­phy”. The de­ci­sion was over­turned by an ap­peals board in April, clear­ing the film for its sum­mer re­lease.

At a cin­ema in Saket, an af­flu­ent south Delhi neigh­bour­hood, the con­tro­versy was a source of be­muse­ment to the crowd lined up to watch its first screen­ing.

“We cut class to be here,” said Sar­gon, a psy­chol­ogy stu­dent. “There’s so much di­a­logue around this whole idea of fem­i­nism, and this is a prob­lem in In­dia be­cause of the dif­fer­ent re­li­gious iden­ti­ties. This movie puts the is­sue in your face – you can’t hide from it.”

Kainaat, study­ing his­tory, said: “We live un­der pa­tri­ar­chal rule, so when women-ori­ented films come out, there’s al­ways con­tro­versy. When women start talk­ing about their de­sires, their likes, their free­doms, it’s un­ex­pected.”

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