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‘Cloak of culture’ veils women’s sexual desires in Hindi cinema

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A still from "Lipstick Under My Burkha". (IANS Photo)

Mumbai, March 8 : Rewind to 2000 – “Astitva” saw Tabu questioning Sachin Khedekar if a woman’s desires are any different from a man’s desire. Cut to 2017 — progressive minds in the Indian film industry have the same question for the countrys censor board, which has refused a certificate to a film in which four fiesty women discover their inner desires.

Film historian S.M.M. Ausaja points out that the problem lies in how Indian filmmakers are becoming liberal with creativity and moving in sync with global trends in cinema, but the Indian censor board has not moved ahead.

“While our art and literature are so progressive, it is paradoxical how our cinema has not progressed,” Ausaja told IANS, adding that he is not optimistic about change.

“People have become so judgmental, and they don’t want to listen to a contrary view. I am not optimistic about things until there’s a radical shift in the ideological levels of those in power. We have to remove this cloak of culture to let cinema flourish by global standards,” Ausaja said.

Filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava, whose “Lipstick Under My Burkha” is in the line of fire for being too “lady oriented”, defends it by saying it is in no way “an explicit portrayal of what women may want”.

“For me, it is just the story of four ordinary women who try to live out their small dreams through secret acts of rebellion. We are so not used to seeing a film that is an honest telling of the intimate lives of women from their own point of view, that it seems so sensational,” Shrivastava told IANS.

Describing it as a “personal and intimate story”, she said: “I don’t see it an explicit film, but rather as an honest film.”

She noted how a common refrain in telling real stories through cinema remains, “Arre, the censors won’t pass it. Forget about that idea. This is India.”

Filmmakers and artistes have been rallying for a change in the Cinematograph Act — only allowing certification, not censorship, so that artistic creativity and freedom are not curtailed.

Over the decades, one has witnessed an upsurge in movies with women as central and strong characters. Some cases in point are “Mother India”, “Aandhi”, “Bhumika”, “Rajnigandha”, “Mirch Masala”, “Damini”, “Chandni Bar”, “No One Killed Jessica”, “Kahaani”, “Mary Kom” and “Neerja”.

Alongside, there have been the fearless souls every now and then, bringing subjects of women’s sexuality to the fore.

Back in 1933, Devika Rani had planted an impassioned kiss on co-star Himanshu Rai’s lips in what is believed to be the first on-screen kiss in Hindi cinema. Interestingly, the woman made the move.

In “Dev D”, Mahie Gill takes a mattress to the fields in anticipation of her lover and their moment of passion. Amrita Puri’s character was bold about calling her lover to the terrace and making love to him in “Kai Po Che!”.

Who can forget Vidya Balan’s “The Dirty Picture”, where her character uses her sex appeal uninhibitedly. Then, there’s the more recently released “Angry Indian Goddesses” to cite as an example.

Deepa Mehta’s brave 1996 saga “Fire” saw leading ladies Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das — both flag bearers of realistic themes in cinema — portraying homosexuality in an unapologetic way. The film is said to have been loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s story “Lihaaf” — a supposed inspiration also for the alluded lesbianism seen in Madhuri Dixit’s and Huma Qureshi’s “Dedh Ishqiya”.

In a way, the “lihaaf” and “burkha” are metaphorical veils one needs in order to discuss women’s sexuality in Hindi cinema.

“I think we have dealt with sexuality as a whole in a very veiled manner through the years, whether it is male or female,” filmmaker Leena Yadav reflected.

Yadav’s “Parched” provided a window into how women live in a tightly-controlled “traditional” world, but in their private spaces they talk about love, sex and their dreams for the future.

Yadav told IANS: “I don’t know what has made people uncomfortable… Because we are also the culture that created the Kamasutra… So from where, we have reached where. I d’n’t even know how this trend started that we would rather show two flowers getting intimate with each other, but we are scared of showing human intimacy.”

Lipstick Under my Burkha

“Lipstick Under My Burkha” producer Prakash Jha says the movie “brings down the shallow and oppressing rules of our society, which says women can’t speak about their fantasies””

“What they don’t understand is that by refusing a certificate to a film, they (the censors) can’t oppress this thinking.”

By : Radhika Bhirani

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])

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Shashi Kapoor honoured at IIFA

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Mumbai, June 25: Late Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor honoured at the 19th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards on Sunday for his outstanding contribution to Indian film Industry. 

Father-son duo Rishi Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor accepted the award on behalf of Shashi Kapoor, who passed away last year December at the age of 79 following liver problems.

“Thank you for honoring Shashi Kapoor with his award. It’s a moment of pride for us,” Rishi said.

Son of legendary Prithviraj Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor stepped into Bollywood with the 1961 film ‘Dharmputra’ after working as a child artist.

In 2011, he was conferred with the Padma Bhushan — the third highest civilian honour — by the Indian government in 2011..

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Varun Dhawan dances with fans on Hindi numbers in Bangkok mall

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Varun Dhawan iifa

Bangkok, June 23: From “Tan tana tan” to “Badrinath ki dulhania” and “Palat”, actor Varun Dhawan danced to his popular tracks at a mall here on Saturday.

Fans flocked in huge numbers at the luxurious Emquartier mall here, just to get a glimpse of their favourite star Varun, who looked dapper in a casual white t-shirt, jeans and powder blue shirt.

CHARGE 🏃🏻‍♂️day 2 IIFA @31philliplim @officialslystallone

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As Varun entered, the crowd welcomed him with loud cheers and whistles. He even shook a leg with two children and was heard speaking in Thai.

The actor also reminisced about shooting in Bangkok for his film “Main Tera Hero” in 2014. The film also starred Ileana D’Cruz and Nargis Fakhri.

The “Badlapur” star also gave away six passes to his fans of the 19th edition of the International Indian Films Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards main gala, which will be held on Sunday.

IIFA ROCKS wearing @kunalrawaldstress

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Apart from Varun, several Bollywood personalities like Arjun Kapoor, Bobby Deol and Shraddha Kapoor will be seen lighting the stage in Sunday.

This year’s IIFA commencing will not just feature power-packed performances by celebrities including the evergreen Rekha — performing live on stage after 20 years — but will seek to raise awareness about women’s empowerment, gender equality and plastic pollution.

The event, which will be taking place at the Siam Niramit theatre, will be co-hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar and actor Riteish Deshmukh.

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Nick Jonas makes his relationship with Priyanka Chopra Insta-official

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nick jonas priyanka chopra

New Delhi, June 23: Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra have just made their relationship Instagram official!

Months of rumours and speculations, finally lead up to this moment of the two lovers going public and what better place than in Mumbai?

Media reports had suggested earlier that Priyanka brought Nick to India to introduce him to her mother Madhu Chopra. Well, the American singer did meet Priyanka’s mother over dinner at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai’s Bandra.

Post the dinner, the two were photographed stepping out of the posh eatery hand-in-hand, adding fuel to the fire.

#priyankachopra #nickjonas ❤️❤️❤️😍😍

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#nickjonas and #priyankachopra today

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By posting a super cute video on his Instagram story, Nick made his relationship with Desi girl Instagram official!

The video shows Priyanka walking toward him while she danced in the rain and he captioned it, “Her” alongside a heart-eyes emoji.

Earlier this month, Nick took Priyanka home to meet his family at his cousin’s wedding in New Jersey. Priyanka also had brunch with Nick’s family members and was seen spending some quality time with them.

Priyanka Chopra nick jonas

The stars first sparked romance rumours at the 2017 MET Gala, when they walked the red-carpet together.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas

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