By Ambika Sharma
A movie that caught my attention and had me excited for all the awards it was winning outside India was Lipstick Under my Burkha. What got me more curious about the movie was the ban on it by the censor board of India. The ban ensured that it got a place on my list of ‘not to miss movies’. I was curious about this film by the time they managed to get an ‘A certificate’ along with a release date.
It is human nature to want to do the thing that you have been restricted. Don’t believe me? Watch a toddler or even your dog make a beeline towards something in your absence that he has no access to in your presence! That is exactly what the censor board does to us, make us want to watch banned movies, by hook or by crook.
It is not that we don’t get exposed to the harsh realities around us, the only problem is we aren’t educated enough to face them. The mentality that Indian society follows is to shield everyone from things that they feel are contrary to the behavioural pattern that they set about a century ago. The problem with it is that one day when the cocoon is off, we experience things and we do not know how to face it. Ever watched the videos on any adult site? It has women from small towns or even villages of India who get exploited on a daily basis. And why is this? Sheer lack of education! This is perhaps why now new moms are following a new approach with their kids giving them the right education and being frank about issues. Today, even young kids know their body parts right and we are not talking just of the hands and legs!
When I watched Lipstick Under My Burkha, I couldn’t fathom why the movie faced such restrictions. Or for that matter even the other film, The Angry Indian Goddess.
Was it because Shireen Aslam (played by Konkana Sen Sharma) depicted how over 70% of women feel in India? In a relationship where they have never experienced any pleasure for themselves despite being married and having children? I can vouch that if you go to smaller cities of India you will bump into many ‘Shireens’.
Banned because Leela (played by Aahana Kumra) wants a bite of the forbidden fruit before marriage? Because she films herself while at it? Again go back to watching Indian MMS that get leaked, some of them are filmed by the girls themselves out of absolute curiosity!
Any lady who travels in a Mumbai local on regular basis will tell you that at least once, she has seen girls get into the ladies coach in a burkha but take it off and stuff it into their bags as soon as the train leaves the station. Or they may pull it out and wear it just before they reach their homes. They end up living a dual life like Rehana Abidi (played by Plabita Borthakur). I do have friends who belong to liberal families and have opted for burkha out of choice. Here when I talk about liberal families, I mean those who believe in educating about the pros and cons and the expectations of the society they live in. Educating about the mental/ physical and social pros and cons of paths they want to choose to walk on.
Ever eavesdropped on the conversations old women in the park who grew up together have in the evenings? They are no holier than Rosy (played by Ratna Pathak) in the film.
Why should Frieda (played by Sarah Jane Dias) in The Angry Indian Goddess hide her personal preferences? Why should Mad (played by Anushka Manchanda) want to commit suicide for failing in life according to her? Why can’t our society simply teach us that it is okay to fail sometimes but never okay to give up? Why should Jo (played by Amrit Maghera) not be upset with being judged just for her body and not as an amazing actor or person that she actually is? When a girl named Durga, Parvati or Kali can get assaulted, why can’t a modern day movie, based on real issues that women face in society, be named on an Indian goddess? Why can’t we accept Su (played by Sandhya Mridul) as a career-oriented businesswoman?
I believe it is about time that the older generation (who run the policies/ censor board) of our society accept that education is better than being exploited. It is about time we stop censoring movies/ reading material that show the true picture of women or men. It is about time that women and men are treated as equals, today there is no task that a man or woman cannot do.
The blog was originally published on Masala! Dubai, UAE