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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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I’ve never faced casting couch, says Ranbir Kapoor

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Ranbir kapoor

Mumbai, April 24: Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor says he has never faced the casting couch.

The actor commented when he was asked for his opinion on veteran choreographer Saroj Khan’s controversial statement that casting couch “provides livelihood at least” in the film industry.

“I have never faced it (casting couch). If it’s there, it is the worst thing,” Ranbir said at the teaser launch of his upcoming film “Sanju” here on Tuesday.

 

Khan’s comment drew ire on social media, following which she apologised.

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Neil Nitin Mukesh, wife to welcome first child

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Neil Nitin Mukesh, Rukmini Sahay (Photo Source: Instagram)

Mumbai, April 24: Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh and his wife Rukmini Sahay are all set to welcome their first child. They are both excited about the new phase in their life.

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PC- The Wedding Story

Neil took to Instagram to announce that they were going to become parents soon.

“Now we will be three,” Neil captioned a colourful photograph in which a stork is seen carrying a baby.

Now we will be THREE 👶🏼

A post shared by Neil Nitin Mukesh (@neilnitinmukesh) on

Neil’s father Nitin Mukesh too shared the same photographs with the caption, “… AND NOW THEY WILL BE “THREE” …

… AND NOW THEY WILL BE “THREE” …

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“The arrival of our first born hasn’t seeped in yet but I’m definitely very excited for the next phase in my life. I am lucky to have great support system at home who are constantly guiding Rukmini on the dos and don’ts. We are okay with a baby girl or a baby boy as long as the baby is healthy,” Neil said in a statement.

Rukmini is confident Neil will be a doting father.

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“He loves children. The family has been taking great care of me. We have been doing a lot of baby shopping over the past few months apart from doing a lot of activities like meditation, yoga and music,” she added.

Neil married Mumbai-based Rukmini in February 2017.

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The couple got engaged on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra.

Image result for Neil Nitin Mukesh, rukmini marriage

Neil had left the decision of finding his soulmate to his parents. It was an arranged match and they had a courtship of one month.

The actor, who is the grandson of legendary singer Mukesh and son of veteran singer Nitin Mukesh, is known for films like “Johnny Gaddaar”, “New York”, “David” and “7 Khoon Maaf”.

Describing it as the happiest moment, Nitin said: “This is the fourth generation of the Mukesh legacy. This means the world to us and we are very elated. The one thing Nishi and I were looking forward to after Neil got married was a grandchild. In fact, Nishi has started redesigning the family cot that has been passed on from generation to generation for the new arrival.”

The couple will be having a ‘godh bharai’ function here for family and friends once Neil wraps up his 45-day schedule opposite “Saaho” in Abu Dhabi. In Saaho, he will be seen playing the role of an antagonist, which also stars Shraddha Kapoor and Prabhas.

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Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik set to become parents

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New Delhi, April 24: Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik are set to become parents, the couple announced on Monday.

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“We are soon to become parents. Having thought about it for a while, we both felt right now is the correct time to start a family,” the 31-year-old Sania announced on her Twitter and Instagram accounts with a picture.

Sania wrote “#BabyMirzaMalik ” on her account while husband Shoaib wrote “#MirzaMalik”. After their posts went viral, friends and fans alike began congratulating the couple.

#BabyMirzaMalik 👶🏽❤️ @daaemi

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#MirzaMalik ❤️ 👶🏼

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“When we found out, we were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to give out this news to our fans and well-wishers. We are very excited to enter this new phase of our lives and look forward to our journey as parents,” she added.

Earlier last month, Sania and Shoaib said they wanted a daughter but whenever they decide to start a family, Sania would want her child’s surname to be ‘Mirza Malik’. The posts they shared on Monday add credence to this fact as both of them wrote ‘MirzaMalik’ on their accounts.

Sania won six Grand Slam in her 15-years of the professional career. The pair got married on April 12, 2010.

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