The examining committee of the Central Board of Film Certification has refused to certify Prakash Jha’s upcoming film, Lipstick Under My Burkha, citing multiple reasons including abusive language and “women’s fantasies”. “The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society,” read the letter from CBFC, according to Mumbai Mirror.

The film is directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha. It was screened to the CBFC’s examining committee in January. It is now awaiting a formal letter from the Revising Committee. Once they get that, they will approach the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, said director Shrivastava. CBFC chief Pankaj Nihalani, however, told Mumbai Mirror that it was the producer’s duty to get the official letter from the revising committee’s office.

Recently, Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Haraamkhor had taken the same measure and got a U/A certificate after the CBFC has refused to certify the film. It was based on a teacher and student’s illicit relationship.

Director Shrivastava, who is at the Glasgow Film Festival for the film’s premiere on February 24, believes that the film has been refused a certificate because it challenges patriarchy. “It’s a feminist film with a strong female voice. I think that’s why they don’t want to certify it. As a filmmaker, I stand by the story and will fight for it till the end,” the director told Mumbai Mirror.

Producer Jha said that the CBFC’s step discourages filmmakers from telling uncomfortable stories and curbs freedom of expression. “Films should challenge the status quo, which is what Lipstick Under My Burkha perhaps does and I believe our audience deserve to watch it,” he told the daily.

Set in a small town of India, Lipstick Under My Burkha is about four women who are in search of freedom. It stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur in the leading roles. The film has already won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.