Lipstick Under My Burkha, a film about four defiant women in India, made its debut over the weekend — months after the country’s censors sought to ban it from theaters.
The movie follows the small acts of rebellion including the sexual escapades — of women living in a small Indian town. Its poster features an illustration of a pink hand making an obscene gesture, the middle finger replaced with a tube of red lipstick.
As The Guardian reports, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) sent Alankrita Shrivastava, director of Lipstick Under My Burkha, a letter that decried the film for being “lady-oriented.” The letter also said that Lipstick Under My Burkha was being banned because it included “abusive words, audio pornography, and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society [sic],” meaning that its contents might offend Indian Muslims.
The ban was met with widespread criticism in India, and according to NDTV, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) ultimately overruled the CBFC’s decision. On Friday, the film was released “across 400 screens,” according to the NDTV.
“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. The group labeled the film “audio pornography.”
“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 did, however, accept several cuts proposed by the filmmakers, and requested that a reference to prostitutes be removed from the movie.
Shrivastava told The Guardian that she was worried the controversy over her film would lead audiences to view it with “preconceived notions.”
“On the other hand,” she added, “because the censor refused classification, a very important dialogue was started in mainstream and social media … about the female and male gaze and gender politics in the popular paradigm of cinema in India.”
Read more at The Guardian.