CBFC denies a certificate to ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

The Central Board of Film Certification has struck again. The organisation, which is popularly referred to as Censor Board as well, does not hesitate to do complete justice to its nickname. Don’t talk about drugs. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t talk about fantasies. Don’t talk about oppression. Shushhh… suppress. Overlook. See away.

Just yesterday, news of Alankrita Srivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ being turned down by CBFC broke the internet. The film was denied a certificate and the board also provided a number of reasons to justify its moves. “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(viii), 2(ix), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i),” [sic] the letter read.

The board is responsible for certification of films in a country like India that produces highest number of films annually in the whole world. Try and wrap your head around how it pretty often succeeds in royally embarrassing us!

The story being ‘lady oriented’ is of course a problem. Instead, it should have been ‘gent oriented’ we assume? It should have represented women without hassles i.e. women without aspirations, opinions and free speech. It should have sketched itself against a perfectly patriarchal system where all we do is fulfil the men’s needs. How did a free-spirited woman of today’s time dare to make a film, symbolising millions of women who dream to break free? Do you know it might cause a social revolution? What if all the films start becoming ‘lady oriented’ in the near future? So much of trouble!

Sexual scenes? Such a sin! Do you even know you shouldn’t show it beyond your hills? You not only do it in secrecy, but you also think, talk and discuss about it secretly. No wait, you can. But only when the other gender lures you, when the other gender owns your body, and when the other gender injects their willingness in you. So, the adult comedies wherein the only ‘funny’ thing is the woman’s assets, are welcome. Sleazy item numbers where you’ve a bunch of men throwing notes on a woman’s waistline are welcome. But desires of a woman in their truest colour are not welcome.

Abusive words? True, they are not respectful and no one demands they should be added to the Oxford dictionary as a part of popular vocabulary. But we are in desperate eagerness what exactly were the words that simply couldn’t be muted. But wait, they’re against the Indian culture.

Pornography in any form is a big deal, right? We continuously fail to preach the teachings right. This primarily happens when we comfortably suppress the fact that we have our own desires and we will always find a way to quench it. In an era where the internet is taking over as the most crucial tool of education, and free talks on sex and sexual attraction are being encouraged worldwide, we are teaching our children (and adults too) to forbid every form of sex. When will some sense knock us? If there’s something that you need to teach your child, teach him the norms of mutual consent in sex, teach him to know his body, teach him to respect the partner’s choice. Teach him that the thirst of lovemaking is absolutely natural and with time, life will unfold its chapters. Teach him tasteful love, the rest will fall in place. And in 2017, if you feel restricting a film that contains audio pornography is another name of being ‘decent’, god bless you. For how long will India continue to live in its own bubble?

We, as a society, have been extremely vulnerable. We have taken offence in slightest of matters. Believing in rumours, we broke the sets of ‘Padmavati’ and hit a veteran like Sanjay Leela Bhansali. We got offended with the title of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ because Badrinath is another name of lord Vishnu and got offended with ‘Raees’ showing a Muslim as a dealer of alcohol. We got offended with ‘Udta Punjab’ because it showed the menace of a particular state. We, as different communities and religions, have been massively misled; with our sentiments set in the wrong direction. We forgot creative freedom, we forgot how to take things impersonally and we took shelter of vicious verbal and non-verbal attacks to curb the opinions we do not like. But, as a body of decision makers who decide what we watch and how we watch, what do we expect the CBFC to do? Surrender to the vulnerability and knock art down? Or, let freedom of speech grow and set an example? Do we expect them to bow down to the unfair norms, or help cinema break them?

Cinema was, is and will be the most powerful medium of expression. When it starts asking uncomfortable questions, you know it is getting to the problems, and you know you can’t afford to be curbed. Lose your voice, or fight out.

It’s a country of over 120 crore. You decide!

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Image Source - YouTube

Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.

Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.

Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
Image Source - Pinterest

“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?
Image Source - India Forums

The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?
Image Source - Pinterest

The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.

CBFC denies a certificate to 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Too afraid of the break-free ideology?
Image Source - giphy.com

And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.

While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..

Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.