India's film censors have declined to certify "Lipstick Under My Burkha" for its sexual scenes and abusive words, among other things. Director Alankrita Shrivastava says the decision is "an assault on women's rights" and she will do everything to ensure the Indian audience gets to watch her film.
The film -- starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah -- chronicles the secret lives of four women of different ages in a small town in India as they search for different kinds of freedom.
A copy of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) letter to the film's producer Prakash Jha states: "The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused."
Shrivastava, who is in Glasgow, where the film will be screened at Glasgow Film Festival, told IANS: "I am not defeated, disheartened or disillusioned by the CBFC's refusal to certify 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. I am more determined than ever before to ensure that 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' can be watched by Indian audiences."
"I will fight this out till the very end, and do whatever it takes because this is not about my film. The real issue is the systematic suppression of women's voices and the throttling of freedom of expression," added Shrivastava, who last helmed "Turning 30!!!".
Shrivastava said that "as a woman and as a filmmaker no one can take away my voice".
"I will refuse to succumb. In a country where there is so much discrimination against women, so much violence against women, isn't it essential to listen to women's stories from their point of view?"
"I believe the decision to refuse certification to our film is an assault on women's rights," she added.
The film won the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival. It will be screened in Glasgow on Friday.
Shrivastava feels her film is being attacked because it presents a female point of view.
She said: "It is ironic that a film that has won the Oxfam Award for the Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival and is being celebrated in several international film festivals across the world, is being attacked by the Indian censor board."
"Lipstick Under My Burkha" will also be screened at the Miami Film Festival. It is in the international competition of only eight features at the International Women's Film Festival at Creteil, Paris, France. It will then head to London Asian Film Festival.
In recent times, the CBFC had refused a certificate to "Haraamkhor", but the makers later took the film to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal and got a green signal for release.