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Here’s why Prince of Wales Museum couldn’t show Lipstick Under My Burkha


The education board of Prince of Wales Museum had reservations about screening the film in an open auditorium.

Mayur Lookhar

Prince of Wales Museum, now rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, raised eyebrows after it decided against screening Alankrita  Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017) at the recently held film festival.

The education board of Prince of Wales Museum had reservations about screening the film in an open auditorium. The museum had roped in the services of writer Anuraadha Tewari, who hand-picked seven films [(Newton (2017), A Death in the Gunj (2017), Mukti Bhawan (2017), Lagaan (2001), Ajji (2017), Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) and Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017)] to be screened at the festival that took place from 12 to 14 January. Buzz has it that museum authorities feared that right wing groups would object to the screening of Lipstick Under My Burkha which had a long battle with the censor board for its "lady-oriented" content.

However, museum director Sabyasachi Mukherjee has rubbished the speculation.

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, Mukherjee said, “What’s being reported is not true. It’s not that we are against art. Our education board had earlier expressed reservation about screening the film in an open auditorium. Families come with children, and the education board wasn’t comfortable with it. We are all women in our education board.”  
 
Tewari claimed that the issue of children coming to the auditorium was never brought to her, terming the museum’s action as a lame excuse.

The arbitrary nature of censorship, especially from a museum, which is supposed to embrace all forms of art, came from an 'imagined fragility of the audience and a culture of fear', Tewari told HuffingtonPost.com.

The museum director was taken aback by Tiwari’s comments. “I’m surprised by some of the comments she has been making. There was some miscommunication on part of the official who communicated the decision to her. The board had expressed their reservation before. We regret that. We paid her for her recommendation, but the final decision lay with the board. We were open to holding the screening in a separate space. We could have used our library, but Tewari never discussed things us."

Lipstick Under My Burkha lost out, but another A rated film, Devashish Makhija’s Ajji was screened in its place.

Defending the education board, Mukherjee said, “The explicit content in Lipstick Under My Burkha is very strong. With Ajji, the violence scenes were graphical in nature. Why would we block any form of art?"

Lipstick Under My Burkha is no stranger to controversy as it faced a harrowing time from the Central Board of Film Certification to get a release. Former CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani and his board had refused to certifiy the film calling it "lady-oriented". Finally, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal cleared the film for release.