A still from the film
Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; April 13, 2017)

Director Alankrita Shrivastava is caught in a bitter-sweet moment. While the Hollywood Foreign Press Association cleared Lipstick Under My Burkha, for the Golden Globes, the film’s release in India is stuck after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) denied certification to it. Attempts by producer Prakash Jha and her for relief from Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) have come to a naught.

Rumours suggest the FCAT team deciding the fate of the film, which included Justice Sarin, Shekhar Ayyer, Poonam Dhillon, senior advocate Veena Gupta and former journalist and activist Shazia Ilmi, were unable to arrive at a conclusion after they first watched it on March 27. Following the re-run in the successive week, sources suggest FCAT members will request the makers to implement several cuts in the graphic’ lovemaking scenes.

A member tells mid-day, “It is a beautiful film. Personally, I found it empowering. However, the FCAT took time to wrap its head around the content. The opinions have been polarised.”

Set in a small Indian town, Lipstick Under My Burkha chronicles the journey of four women of different ages, as they search for a certain kind of freedom in their respective lives. It stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur.

Acknowledging that the FCAT has given the green light to controversial films like Haramkhor (2017) and Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016), the source suggests Lipstick raised eyebrows owing to its lovemaking scenes. “When sex is portrayed so elaborately, it becomes pornography. There are no nude scenes in the film though,” says the source, adding that though their decision may attract criticism, “toning down” an expletive scene might just make the film accessible for larger audience.

While the FCAT will release its official statement next week, Ilmi argues, “The appellant has been given a good hearing. We have looked at the film fairly and been in touch with the makers constantly.”

The FCAT often comes to the rescue of filmmakers troubled by the highhandedness of CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani. However, the tribunal appears to be unrelenting as far as this production is concerned. Jha and Alankrita remained unavailable for comment.

Alankrita Shrivastava and Prakash Jha