Alankrita Srivastava’s new film, “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, may be in the dock for being a “lady oriented film“, but those against undue certification, have finally got something to cheer about.
After four long months, Delhi-based musician Sharif Rangnekar has finally won the battle against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), over a music video that was previously rejected by the Board for its same-sex storyline.
The video, “Miss You”, by multi-member band Friends of Linger, gained considerable popularity online. However, when Rangnekar approached the CBFC, the video was given “A” certification, for adult content. Rangnekar had taken the issue to the Board’s review committeecomittee saying the video did not have adult content.
Rangnekar, who wrote the song, and appears in the video, tells YKA, “At that point, the video didn’t matter as much as my rights, and the rights of our community.”
Shocked by the CBFC’s decision, Rangnekar went up to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) on January 25, to make his case. Once there, things took an unexpected turn.
“Honest to God, I was pleasantly surprised by the way things were conducted,” he says, recalling that tribunal members Shekhar Iyer and Poonam Dhillon had turned around and questioned the CBFC’s reluctance to certify the video. “I overheard them say that this is socially relevant, and they didn’t see anything wrong with it, and that maybe it could be ‘U/A’, but it should go out. Then they said ‘We’ve read the appeal, and we’re completely with you,’ and then they started dictating the order.”
A copy of the order has been emailed to Rangnekar, and a ‘U/A’ certificate from the CBFC is expected soon, after which, he will approach MTV to air it nationally.
Now, you might ask why Rangnekar went through all this trouble, when he could just as easily reach people through the internet. After all, our smartphones and laptops are a world of their own, right?
“But that’s not the only world,” Rangnekar reminds us. “There is a lot that is influenced by traditional forms of media like television.”
Further, he says, sticking to mediums like YouTube and Facebook means “accepting what is denied to you.” “There are so many spaces to influence minds, and educate people that are completely controlled by a heterosexual patriarchal system. Why should all these spaces be used and misused by one section, when we are not allowed to tell our stories?,” he asks.
“The CBFC have taken their job too seriously,” says Rangnekar. “They believe that they have to censor, they don’t believe they have to certify.”
At a time when CBFC head Pahlaj Nihalani makes grand proclamations about preserving Indian culture, upgrading how certification happens is going to be a massive fight. But for now, small but significant victories – like a TV release of “Miss You” – is all kinds of affirming.