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



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])


TV actor Ashiesh Roy passes away

Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) expressed solidarity for Ashiesh Roy who died on Tuesday. The actor’s staff member confirmed the news that he was suffering from a kidney ailment and was undergoing dialysis.




Television actor Ashiesh Roy

Actor Ashiesh Roy passed away due to kidney failure on Tuesday. He was 55. Roy had been keeping unwell for a while and was admitted to the ICU in a Mumbai hospital in May this year.

Ashiesh Roy’s staff member confirmed the news. He told that the actor died at his home.

“He collapsed around 3.45 am. He had a kidney ailment and his dialysis was also going on but he had gotten better in the last few weeks… His sister will arrive from Kolkata in the evening. A call on funeral will be then taken,” the staff member said.

The Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) expressed solidarity for Ashiesh Roy via a social media post. “#CINTAA expresses its deepest condolence on the demise of Shri Ashiesh Roy (Member since: January 2003)” CINTAA’s Facebook post read.

In May, Ashiesh Roy had announced on social media that he was on dialysis and even sought financial assistance. “I am in the ICU… Very ill. Dialysis,” Ashiesh Roy first wrote on Facebook, followed by another post that read, “Need your urgent money for dialysis (sic).”

Read: TV actor Ashiesh Roy hospitalised, seeks aid from fans

Following Ashiesh Roy’s social media posts, filmmaker Hansal Mehta also requested film bodies to provide financial assistance to the ailing actor. Hansal Mehta tweeted, “Actor Ashish Roy (Bond) is seriously ill, on dialysis and in the ICU. He has appealed for financial help on FB. I’m doing all I can to help. Can industry associations also help the ailing actor?”

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Comedian Bharti Singh, husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa granted bail in drugs case

While Bharti Singh was arrested on Saturday, Haarsh was taken into custody on Sunday. The NCB told the Esplanade court that the two have confessed to consuming ganja. Singh is said to have told officers that she would smoke weed procured by her husband.




Bharti Singh Haarsh Limbachiyaa

A Mumbai court on Monday granted bail to comedian Bharti Singh and husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa in a drugs case. The couple, who was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) following the seizure of ganja from their house, was sent to judicial custody till December 4.

While Bharti was arrested on Saturday, Haarsh was taken into custody on Sunday. The NCB told the Esplanade court that the two have confessed to consuming ganja. Singh is said to have told officers that she would smoke weed procured by her husband. Limbachiyaa said that he purchased ganja from one peddler and that he would keep one bag of the contraband at his office and another at his house for consumption.

Search operations were carried out at the couple’s properties following a tip-off. The NCB recovered a bag with 65 gram of ganja from Limbachiyaa’s production house in Versova. Later, another search was carried out at his residence, Oberoi Springs in Andheri, from where another bag consisting 21.5 gram of cannabis and unaccounted cash of Rs 1.49 lakh were seized.

NCB officials said they had recently arrested a 21-year-old man from Khar Danda area, who was allegedly involved in drug trafficking. During his interrogation, names of Singh and Limbachiyaa had come up, after which raids were carried out at their residence, said an NCB official.

Singh and Limbachiya have been booked under sections 20(b)(ii)(A) (involves small quantity of drugs) and 8(c) (possession of drugs) and 27 (consumption of drugs) of the NDPS Act.

Singh, who has appeared in several popular television comedy shows, currently hosts another comedy show named Khatra Khatra Khatra with her husband.

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Bigg Boss 14: These contestants will be nominated this week, captain Kavita uses special power

Of what may come as a shock for many, Kavita has reportedly saved Eijaz Khan from elimination and nominated Aly Goni in his place.




Bigg Boss 14 Salman Khan

After Weekend Ka Vaar episodes with Salman Khan, Bigg Boss 14 is once again ready for the nominations of the week. Like last week, this week also six contestants will be nominated for eviction. And since Kavita Kaushik is the new captain of the house, she will have a special power to save one contestant and nominate the other.

Of what may come as a shock for many, Kavita has reportedly saved Eijaz Khan from elimination and nominated Aly Goni in his place.

On Monday, Bigg Boss will initiate the nomination process wherein six contestants – Jasmin Bhasin, Eijaz Khan, Rubina Dilaik, Rahul Vaidya, Pavitra Punia and Abhinav Shukla will be nominated for elimination.

For the uninitiated, the nomination process looks similar to how Aly was asked to go inside the theatre and announce six names initially. So this time, it looks like Kavita, as the new captain of the house, will do the honours to put the six contestants into the cage.

In the promo, Pavitra can be seen nominating Jasmin for elimination and vice versa while Rahul nominates Eijaz and the latter nominates Abhinav in the task.

It will be interesting to see the changing dynamics in the house!

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