It is that time of the year again.
Our Censor Board, the protector of all things moral and decent, has found yet another victim. This time in the form of Prakash Jha’s Lipstick Under My Burkha. The august body refused to certify the film as it portrayed abusive language and “women’s fantasies”.
“The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society,”. This is an excerpt of what the letter from CBFC read.
Let us break this down. People do not use abusive language and nor do women have fantasies—who gave them the right anyway? Of course, what the movie is trying to show has no resemblance to reality whatsoever. And lastly, the movie is lady-oriented. Lady-oriented! If someone does manage to figure out what that means and why is it the grounds to refuse a movie its certificate, please do let me know.
Obviously, this is not the first time the censor board has had a run in with producers in the recent past. Spectre, Udta Punjab (for which they initially suggested 89 cuts), Aligarh (that is a no-brainer, to be honest, it was a story of a homosexual professor) among many others have faced the scissors from this pious institution. They have eagerly got in the way of excellent storytelling whenever given a chance.
We proudly call ourselves a “developing” nation. However, with the advent of this development, we have failed to leave behind our old school of thought. We have several harsh realities that we face on a daily basis. Yet, we refrain from unveiling them to a larger audience through the means of Bollywood. The masses would still enjoy watching Salman Khan blow away people with guns more than Kalki Koechlin deal with her life while suffering from cerebral palsy.
Our filmmakers need to undergo many hardships(as if the censor board isn’t enough) to make path-breaking stories. Even the slightest inconsistency with their ideologies offends social groups and political parties. We even saw how miscreants vandalised the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati. Apart from vandalising the set, they even beat him up. All because the representation of Queen Padmavati wasn’t acceptable to them. Religious or regional dissent aside, reports of political parties such as Shiv Sena or MNS stalling releases are very usual. Judicial overreach when it comes to movies is also very evident.
If we are to progress as a society, we need to have an open mind when it comes to accepting our faults. We have to move on from the obstinate notions that we have held for women, or certain communities. Movies are an effective way to mirror the society. If a movie does show something “offensive” or some particular region in a “bad light” (subtle Udta Punjab reference), we must be able to accept that there is a problem. Only then would we be able to correct our wrongs, rather than simply hiding them.
Censor Board: The ‘Hero’ We Do Not Deserve has been edited by Ishita Gupta