On 24 April 2017, India’s Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) overturned a decision by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and cleared film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ for release in the country’s cinemas on 21 July 2017, reported The Guardian on 26 April 2017.
“There cannot be any embargo on a film being women oriented or containing sexual fantasies and expression of the inner desires of women,” FCAT said. “As a matter of general approach, if the aspect of sexual desires and their expression is sensitively handled without bringing coarseness, vulgarity or obscenity, pandering prurient tendencies, then it is not to be disallowed.”
FCAT gave the film an adult certificate, meaning anyone aged 18 and over could watch it, and asked the filmmakers to make some cuts, mute some offensive Hindi words from a couple of scenes, and reduce the length of some sex scenes.
“Of course I would have loved no cuts, but the FCAT has been very fair and clear,” film director Alankrita Shrivastava told Agence-France Presse. “I feel that we will be able to release the film without hampering the narrative or diluting its essence.”
In January 2017 the CBFC refused to certify the film because it was “lady oriented” and contained “sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society”.
The film tells the story of four Indian women living in a small town, focusing on their personal struggles and sexual awakening. The film has garnered several awards at festivals outside of India.
India’s film industry has begun to criticise the CBFC’s widespread censorship. In June 2016, directors and film workers from the Film Employees Federation of Kerala in southern India held a sit-in protest at the regional CBFC office in Thiruvananthapuram to protest cuts the board demanded to film ‘Kathakali’.
That same month a Bombay High Court ruled in favour of the filmmakers of ‘Udta Punjab’, who took their fight with the CBFC to court after the censorship board ordered 94 cuts to the film. The court ruled the film could be released with just one cut.
» Hindustan Times – 20 June 2017
Lipstick Under My Burkha: New poster is a gesture to Censor Board?
» The Indian Express – 19 June 2017
Lipstick Under My Burkha to arrive with a dash of red on July 21, release date announced with a bold poster
» The Guardian – 26 April 2017
Indian film board clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for release
» BBC – 26 April 2017
India clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for restricted release
More from Freemuse
More from Freemuse
» 24 February 2017: India/Pakistan: Films continue to fall victim to threats and censorship
» 18 November 2016: India: Film censorship board agrees to new film ratings
» 4 October 2016: India/Pakistan: Films, actors, tv shows banned amidst Kashmir tensions
» 23 August 2016: India: Artists struggle with censors over LGBT and other themes
» 13 July 2016: India: Film censorship continues unabated
» 16 June 2016: India: Film survives censor board controversy after court ruling
» 30 May 2016: India: Censors under fire
» 19 April 2016: India: Censor board bans own member’s movie
» 11 March 2016: India: Two superhero blockbusters suffer cuts
» 12 February 2016: India: Frustrations in film industry over censorship
» 21 January 2016: India: Censor board’s ‘truly epic cuts’ to American movie
» 26 November 2015: India: Pakistani actors banned in Maharashtra state
» 25 November 2015: India: Board censors James Bond kissing scenes
» 14 February 2015: India: Rift in censor board over list of ‘banned words’