AKA ‘Four Days Ago, A Movie on Oppressed Women Exploring Their Sexuality Was Banned in India Because It’s Too “Lady Oriented”. Let the Outrage Commence.’
February 28, 2017
For the past 2 days I’ve been encountering posts about the kind of movies the Indian censor board bans or lets through. Last week, a friend and I were discussing about Fifty Shades Darker not getting through the censor. I mean, it’s not a very good example — Fifty Shades Darker is being panned by critics worldwide as a disappointing movie version of a lukewarm book. But consider: the censor board let Mastizaade through. Mastizaade.
Then I read about this movie called Lipstick Under My Burkha being denied a certificate. I’d not heard of this movie before, though reports say it’s doing well and is beginning to garner appreciation the world over. From the title I guess (I haven’t read the synopsis or seen the trailer yet) it seems to be about female empowerment. (As I’m writing this, movies like Margharita With A Straw and Fire pop up in my mind.)
The reason the censor board provided for nixing Lipstick Under My Burkha was that it was too “lady oriented”. I’m not sure what their understanding of “lady oriented” is here. But think about it: Fifty Shades Darker, like Fifty Shades of Grey, has quite a few scenes with sex and nudity. So you might think, ‘Oh, that’s why they banned it.’ But, Mastizaade.
My theory is, it’s not that these movies portray sexual acts, it’s the kinds of acts they portray. People who’ve seen any (or both) of the Fifty Shades movies will vouch for the fact that both portray sex in ways which are (how do I say this) “lady oriented”. So might this be a reason to deny Indian viewers who are legal adults from legally watching these movies out of their own volition?
Now I haven’t watched Fifty Shades Darker (but I want to) or Lipstick Under My Burkha (but I really want to) or Mastizaade (Based on the trailer and reviews, I really, REALLY, don’t want to). But it makes one think, doesn’t it? Is sex in movies really only OK up until it focuses on male pleasure?
What’s so uncomfortable about some “lady orientation”?
BTW, this is a teaser poster for Kya Kool Hai Hum 3, another gem that the board let through. Yes, it’s all “couched in metaphor” and “sex is not shown directly” but do you really not think a child would get the whole message in three seconds?
What do you make of all this, dear reader? Comment below! One of the positive outcomes of this cringe-worthy news is that people are opening up about the fare we consume as movie audiences, the moral policing that has immutable power over what we are and are not allowed to watch, and the way we view sexual pleasure.