Independent films are only liked by few, and the audience for the same is increasing each day. With the number of films gathering appreciation globally, film makers are making their way to this world, and taking a chance of conveying their message with art. But in a dynamic, developing country where we have constitutionalised rights, why is it that we face backlash for expressing ourselves? Why are thoughts for many a taboo in India?
Yes... we are indeed talking about films with excellent messages which were praised globally, but never saw the daylight in our country - due to our parochial mindset!
The rage started when the movie 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' which was slated to release in January 2017 but was denied by CBFC owing to its ‘lady-oriented’ content. It was followed by outrage on social networking website where people criticised CBFC over the ban. However, the movie was highly appreciated at the Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) and at the Tokyo Film Festival. Further, it also got recognition at popular and acclaimed Golden globes.
Here are some movies which were banned in India but got recognised at International Film Festivals.
The Pink Mirror (2003)
Usually the colour pink is related to women, but this particular movie talks about transsexuals. Directed by Sridhar Rangayan, this film is considered to be the first movie which focuses on transsexuals, a topic considered as a taboo in India. The film revolves around two transsexuals and a gay teenager’s attempt to seduce a man.
The film was banned in 2013 terming it as vulgar and offensive. Though it was banned in India it got awards at International film festivals.
- Jury Award for Best Feature, Fire Island, New York, USA
- Best Film of the Festival, Question de Genre Lille, France
Gandu is a Bengali film, directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee, who describes his film as a ‘rap-musical’. It was not released in India due to its offensive language and nudity. However, it was recognised at many International Film Festivals. Gandu stars Anubrata, Joyraj, Kamalika, Silajit, and Rii in the lead roles and the music for the same has been given by the alternative rock band 'Five Little Indians'.
- Screened at the 2010 South Asian International Film Festival in New York City.
- Official selection at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival
- Screened at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival
Hunterrr fame Gulshan Deviah starrer film Peddlers was scheduled to release in 2013 in India but is still waiting to be released. This film revolves around the destitute boys who are in their 20s who are chased by a young cop. Written and directed by Vassan Bala, Hunterrr features Gulshan Devaiah, Nishikant Kamat, Kriti Malhotra (of Dhobi Ghat fame), Nimrat Kaur and Siddharth Menon in the lead roles.
- Screened at 2012 International Critics' Week (independent film event which runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival) in southern France.
- Selected for the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors’ Lab along with 12 other film-makers from across the world.
Based on homosexuality, Unfreedom also throws light on the Islamic terrorism angle. The film was banned in India because it showcased homosexuality. Directed by debut filmmaker Raj Amit Kumar, Unfreedom stars Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee.
- Nominated at 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards for a category of Feature Film - Foreign Film (Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR) category.
Lipstick Under My Burka (2016)
After CBFC denied certification to ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ film stating it as a ‘lady oriented film’, as mentioned by the CBFC, received a heavy backlash across social media. Despite the comments received, the authorities did not grant the certification. But this did not stop the film director, Alankrita Shrivastava, from soaring high. The film revolves around four women who secretly fulfill their desires through small acts of courage and rebellion. Lipstick Under My Burkha stars Kumra, Konkana Sensharma, Ratna Pathak, Plabitha Borthakur, Vikrant Massey and Sushant Singh.
- Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival 2017
- Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai film festival
- ‘The spirit of Asia’ award by the Japan foundation Asia Center
We believe, its not the films that need to be changed but our look-out. As the legendary film maker Shyam Benegal rightly said - the job of CBFC in India should only be to certify the film, not change the message.
Change in our thought and approach will be the only way for these films to reach a wider audience. Till, then keep fighting and keep raising your voice, people!