If you thought the notoriously conservative Indian Censor Board couldn't get any worse in its decision-making, there's some news for you.
Alankrita Shrivastava's feminist drama, Lipstick Under My Burkha, which explores the sexual escapades of four women in a small town, has been denied certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
And you'll be pretty stunned on hearing the reason given to the makers for the decision.
Producer Prakash Jha and the film's director, Alankrita, were told by the CBFC that they cannot certify the film because: "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, hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i)."
While CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani refused to elaborate on the issue (He said the decision to refuse certification was unanimous), an enraged Prakash Jha, who is the film's producer, told Mumbai Mirror, "As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope."
Shrivastav said that the reason the Board doesn't want to certify her film is because it is a 'feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy.'
The makers are now waiting for the official letter from the Revising Committee after which they'll approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) to secure a certificate that'll ensure a release.
People on Twitter are already calling out the Censor Board for once again suppressing the filmmaker's right to freedom of expression.
CBFC now refuses to clear a film dealing w/ female sexuality 'cos ladkiyon ko sex ke baare mein nahi sochna chahiye. https://t.co/SHVnx9Xfba— वरुण (@varungrover) February 23, 2017
The film will go to FCAT, win the case. GOI will promise to change CBFC, some gullible folks will celebrate & then...NOTHING. REPEAT till .— वरुण (@varungrover) February 23, 2017
Censor Board is refusing to certify Konkona Sen starrer 'Lipstick under my burkha'. This ridiculously cautious entity must be scrapped!— Sangita Nambiar (@Sanginamby) February 23, 2017
It is so unfortunate but certainly not surprising, the infamously ridiculous CFBC has rejected certification for... https://t.co/H83YsOGXJA— Women Making Films (@wmfindia) February 23, 2017
While Lipstick Under My Burkha may face censorship in India, it has already earned accolades at the Mumbai Film Festival (movies screened there do not require a Censor certificate) and at festivals abroad.
It won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at MAMI while winning the Spirit of Asia award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Here's the film's trailer which features Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra, and Plabita Borthakur in leading roles.