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Censorship is obsolete in democratic country: Alankrita Shrivastava

Censorship is obsolete in democratic country: Alankrita Shrivastava

By Sanya Pandey New Delhi, Jul 18 (UNI) Director Alankrita Shrivastava, whose film 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' was deemed too "lady-oriented" by the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has said that censorship was a very archaic concept in a free and democratic country like India and 'as citizens of the country we must claim the right to freedom'. Talking to UNI, Alankrita, who was in the town recently to promote her upcoming movie, said, "I definitely think that film censorship needs to be bid a goodbye. This is 2017. We became independent in 1947. It is a free and democratic country, We can definitely do away with censorship. 'I feel censorship is a very archaic concept in a free and democratic country and we as citizens of the country must claim the right to freedom. We have accepted censorship for too long." The filmmaker said certification process should be simple. 'There should be nobody that acts like a moral guardian sitting and deciding that what adult citizen should watch, what should be deleted, what should be beeped. It is ridiculous. In 2017, digital and international content is available and if we genuinely are free and democratic country, then we need to bid goodbye to censorship," she said. On the experience with the Censor Board, Alankrita said,"The Examining Committee was divided in its opinion, so, we approached the Revising Committee. Pahlaj Nihalani, who was present at the screening, made me feel like a criminal. Ideally, the CBFC Committee and the director should sit across the table and discuss the concerns objectively. But, in India, your fate is declared like a judgement." On CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani saying that she was crticising the board for publicity, Alankrita said.'I still stand by the statement that a certification body cannot exercise their power on artistes and filmmakers in a free and democratic country and if this is happening it is wrong." 'I feel that this concept of censorship is a joke in a democratic country. There should be no censorship it is just a waste of time." Talking about the title, she said the 'Burkha' and the 'Lipstick' both incarnate a solitary notion of feminine character in a very paradoxical tone. "I didn't plan of a title which has a paradox, it just instinctively that the title came to me. It is a metaphoric title that talks about the women having secret dreams, hidden desires, ambitions that are suppressed and idea of the title is also that you need not to confine women, we imagine that they are happy with the roles the society has prescribed them with but the truth is they have the pulsating desire of freedom, inner desires to do more with their lives. So this was the idea of the title. 'They will always keep dreaming even if society puts them into boxes or restrains them, they can’t kill women’s passion, ambition and dreams. It also talks about the things that women sometimes do in secret because they are not allowed to do them in public," she said, adding that the movie is about four women who are leading four separate battles for their freedom. The title, therefore is a representation of hidden desires that refuse to go away.' On the response to the film at the film festivals, the director of "Turning 30" said,"People have loved the film till now. It has been screened in over 35 film festivals across the world. If it is a threat to patriarchy then it is a good thing, as patriarchy is not a good concept and if it feels threatened then it is great. It is very interesting that how four ordinary women and their little dreams and their little subversion of the restraints put upon them, such small acts of rebellion can threaten the entire patriarchal social order." On the challenges faced in the film’s making, Alankrita said, "It was not challenging but an interesting experience. It was a wake up call for me. I realised perhaps women in India are not free to express themselves as I thought they were and it became very important that the film releases no matter what happens." 'If 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' is shut down then it would mean that it is the precedent we are setting up for the future that you can't make these kind of films. The film has got love and appreciation from around the world, and that gave me a lot of courage and strength. I felt like I was on the right path as I could see people embracing the film." Lamenting that men dominate even the kind of films being made in Hindi cinema, she said,'While women are encouraged to dress in skimpy clothes, objectify themselves and dance to please the male gaze, they are forbidden to experiment with or express their sexuality in a way that 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' dares to. I think the nature of Indian cinema will change drastically when there are more women making films.' Alankrita found the lack of female voices disconcerting. “Our film industry has a very narrow view of gender dynamics, politics of representation, the context of the gaze, alternative narratives,” she says, adding that it is vital for a society to allow the female perspective and have more women making films. Alankrita said she finds women’s stories more interesting. 'I am preoccupied with them as a filmmaker right now. There are anyhow enough stories about men,' she says. Telling about the changes that Lipstick brought within her, Alankrita said,"It has made me grow up as an artiste and a person. I have become stronger and resilient. It has been a very intense and emotionally, a fraught kind of experience. This film hasn’t been easy at all right from the beginning. It has been one of the hardest phases of my life – just making this film. It has been a long and difficult journey and has taught me how to persevere and not to give up. It was a testing and trying experience." Asked how did the film happen, she said,"I was looking to explore this yearning for freedom that I have, I don’t feel fully free and I wanted to explore that. I wanted to set it in a city where there are both old and new parts so that I could explore the juxtaposition. I love Bhopal, I have spent time there but more than that the old Bhopal has a lot of Hindus and Muslims living together. My two characters are Hindus, other two are Muslims and they live in the same structure. I wanted that sense of overlapping." The film is slated to release on July 2, with Ekta Kapoor’s Alt Entertainment as presenter and pan-India distributor for the film. UNI PY/AR RSA SNU 1549

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