Alankrita Shrivastava, the firebrand director of Lipstick Under My Burkha talks about her struggles and successes over the last two months. Lipstick the film has already won nine awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for the Best Feature Film at Films de Femmes in France. They may even campaign for the Golden Globes. The Indian certification board banned the film for being ‘too lady oriented’ and this news spread like wild fire across the world grabbing headlines and social media space. There was tremendous support from Indian women, and men to rally for the film to be released in India. Alankrita joins us on Feminist Rani, just back from Paris.
“Patriarchy cuts through nations, cultures, castes, religious identity and this is a story about four women and the reason they are different characters from four different communities, is because this thing of being restricted and wanting to break out is not special only to a community. There are so many women of different identities. Why shouldnt their stories be told? Why don’t we have films that don’t reflect diversity? The biggest focus in Hollywood right now is the lack of representation of race. Lipstick is very progress from that angle. We are a secular country, reflective of different cultures, we should own it.”
Why are we constantly telling women that if they step outside ‘their boundaries’ they have to pay a price for it? “Bombay is a perfect example. It’s the best city for women to live in but you don’t find housing for single women. I faced this for years,” Alankrita shares. “A woman who is not bound by the traditional institutions of society, then they think of her as a free wheeling person.”
Our societies just don’t like the idea of free women – Alankrita Shrivastava
It is this ‘female point of view’ that might have ‘unsettled’ the censor board? “Indian cinema sometimes threatens patriarchy” says the fearless director based in Mumbai.
Indian men are not negative, they just don’t know better- Alankrita Shrivastava
For Alankrita there is a larger cause attached to this. The problem with society and the system. The bigger challenge that women mostly don’t have the opportunity to express themselves. As though they simply lacked the rights. That’s how we have built the perception in our very patriarchal society. For her the fight is a long one. That of calling the bluff of a system that’s hypocritical. “You can’t have double standards for the content created by the male gaze for the fulfillment of male desire and discriminate against alternative points of view,” she says.
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