Fighting Bollywood

“It is not about CBFC not certifying one film. It is about them trying to silence the voices of women in particular. … If we don’t speak up and take a stand now … it will be the death of creativity.” – Alankrita Shrivastava, an Indian filmmaker speaking on her second feature, Lipstick Under My Burkha, which was banned by India’s censor board for “lady-oriented content,” “sexual scenes,” and “audio pornography” (whatever that is).

The film, which follows two Hindu and two Muslim women on their journeys towards freedom and self-expression, has become the latest battleground in India’s culture wars, as the conservative ruling party exerts increasing control over art. Alankrita points out the irony between her film’s ban and overtly sexual, mainstream Bollywood blockbusters, telling the LA Times that the government board is simply “interested in perpetuating the male gaze … there’s no space for ordinary women with their ups and downs, their flaws, their quirks.”

While she fights to overturn the censor board’s decision, Lipstick Under My Burkha has become an international award-winning film, screened at film festivals from Glasgow to Tokyo.

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