Lipstick Under My Burkha ban overturned in India

Certification board fails to defend initial decision.

by Jennie Kermode

Alankrita Shrivastava with her award from the Glasgow Film Festival
Alankrita Shrivastava with her award from the Glasgow Film Festival Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

It won the audience award at this year's Glasgow Film Festival and has been warmly received by audiences and critics around the world, but until this week it looked as if Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha might never be shown in India, where its story is set. Muslim leaders in Bhopal had called for a boycott and the country's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had twice refused to grant it the certificate needed for mainstream distribution - but it has now been ordered to do so by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.

Shrivastava argued that the CBFC had a history of trying to suppress the voices of women. Her film had attracted controversy because it deals with issues around female sexuality and features some erotically charged scenes (still tame by Western standards) as well as political discussion about women's rights. Some of the language it used was also considered offensive.

A few days after arriving at its decision, the tribunal reproached the CBFC for failing to engage with filmmakers about films which it found problematic, suggesting that finding compromises which might involve cuts or changes would be better than leaving cases to proceed to appeal.

Lipstick Under My Burkha's producer, Prakash Jha, said that an Indian release date for the film will be announced shortly.

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