Lipstick Under My Burkha director slams CBFC, Nihalani plays victim card

Pahlaj Nihalani said the film certification board is an easy target. 

Our Correspondent

Pahlaj Nihalani, chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), popularly known as the censor board, has justified the rejection of director Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha and cried victim in the scenario.

Talking to The Times of India newspaper, Nihalani said, “Have you heard of any big film being denied certification? How come so many films are being released if CBFC is acting as moral police?”

Lipstick Under My Burkha review: Fine performances guide this well-written drama of women and their dreams

The CBFC chief also criticized some films for not catering to an 'Indian audience’. “The fact is that some of the producers don’t make films for an Indian audience; they make it for the festival circuit or maybe something else. And their films are shown in festivals without any certificate; they seek special clearance from the I&B [Union information and broadcasting] ministry,” he said. 

While playing the victim card, Nihalani went on to compare the CBFC board members to doctors and Income-tax officers. “All these charges are made against the censor board because it is an easy target," he said. "We are just doing our job. Nobody questions an income-tax officer, a doctor for doing his duty. The fact remains that some people make anything and then resort to controversies just to create a buzz around their films. This is a way to get publicity.” 

Shrivastava, meanwhile, lambasted the CBFC and questioned its attitude in relation to the so-called item numbers in mainstream Hindi films. “This decision insults the intelligence of the audience," Shrivastava said. "In a country that reeks of patriarchy, shouldn’t we be encouraging more stories of and by women? The CBFC will happily pass so-called item numbers because they are for entertainment purpose. They don’t think those songs objectify women.”

Lipstick Under My Burkha has received appreciation at various film festivals across the world. The director said it was ironic that the film has to struggle for a release in the country of its origin. “It shows how petty the thought process of the people running the CBFC is," she said. "Their job is to certify a film, not stop its release.”

Yesterday, in an interview, the CBFC chairman had said the board had denied certification to Lipstick Under My Burkha to protect the ‘culture’ of India. He said, “I don’t care what other people think. It is our job to decide what is appropriate or not for our culture. If we think that the content doesn’t fit in with the culture of the country, then we shall remove it.” 

The CBFC has come under fire from people on social media after a letter issued to the producers of the film said, 'The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i). (sic)'