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Home / Bollywood / Naseeruddin Shah: Censor Board is afraid of female sexuality on screen

Naseeruddin Shah: Censor Board is afraid of female sexuality on screen

Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah, whose wife Ratna Pathak Shah stars in the film Lipstick Under My Burkha, says that the Central Board of Film Certification, aka Censor Board, is “narrow-minded”.

bollywood Updated: Aug 02, 2017 14:24 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah thinks that the CBFC, aka Censor Board, has turned dictatorial.
Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah thinks that the CBFC, aka Censor Board, has turned dictatorial. (Hindustan Times)

Naseeruddin Shah has watched the film Lipstick Under My Burkha, starring his wife Ratna Pathak Shah, twice. And the veteran actor can’t figure out why the film was initially denied certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), aka Censor Board.

“I really don’t know what problem they had with the film. I think they have a problem with female sexuality being portrayed on screen. What the film’s success has done is that it has shown [the Censor Board] up, and what they thought about the film. I have seen the film twice, and it’s a wonderfully made film that talks about what’s going on in society. I don’t know why the Censor Board had a problem with that,” he quips.

The CBFC letter informing the filmmakers that certification wouldn’t be given had called the film “lady-oriented”, a perplexing word that drew much ridicule from filmmakers and actors. Afterwards, the Lipstick team got the required clearance from a parallel body. This has been one of the most high-profile tussles between the Censor Board and film teams in recent memory.

With Lipstick’s release stalled for almost six months, director Alankrita Shrivastava and her team fought to get a clean chit, and finally received it from the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which asked for 16 cuts in the film.

Naseeruddin Shah says, “One has to ask a psychiatrist as to why they are afraid of [female sexuality] on screen. It’s very frightening to see that the Censor Board can do whatever it wants and practise its biases openly and ban films that it doesn’t like. But the success of such films prove that no one is bothered about what the Censor Board or the doubters think about [these] films.”

Shah also criticises the Censor Board for being dictatorial. “For starters,” he says, “they are supposed to give a film a certificate; they are no authority to ban a film, or stay its release. But then they claim to be someone who can do that. Their narrow-minded approach affects the film industry. But nothing has been done about it.”

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