Usually when dealing with politics (especially politics that has totalitarian tendencies), one encounters layers of obfuscation and many instances of corrupted language. This is true now and it was true in Orwell’s time (and will remain true forever): he writes in his essay, ‘Politics and the English Language’- “Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.”
So it is a great relief when one comes across a government ruling which on first glance is stated in clear and concrete language. I refer you to the first part of the latest ruling by the CBFC to deny a certificate to the film ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha.’ The reason? The film is ‘lady oriended (sic).’
If it really is as clear as it sounds, then this is a very clear statement of misogyny.
Why is it misogyny? It is a muffling of female expression and blocking a female viewpoint, like a man holding his hands over the eyes and mouth of his helpless wife.
But is it as clear as it sounds? The uncharacteristic plainness and clarity raise some questions: Is the CBFC so ignorant that they didn’t foresee the outrage and controversy this will raise? Are their ideas so anachronistic that they believe this is a valid reason to block a film’s release? Are they genuinely not aware of the emancipation of women? Or are they hiding something?
Like a foggy mountain road that suddenly clears, your relief is quickly reversed when the fog comes rolling back in and obscures your vision. In much the same way, even the clearest sounding government ruling maintains its clarity only for a short period of time.
Ask yourself what is more likely: that the premier film certification body in this country is genuinely unaware that denying a film’s release for being female oriented is valid and uncontroversial, or, that they are hiding the real reason, or, that this reason was thought to be supplemental to the others further on in the ruling (which also means that they think it to be valid).
Unless, of course, the CBFC genuinely didn’t think there was anything controversial or invalid about this ruling. This could mean either of three things: One, the CBFC is ignorant of female emancipation and women’s rights and two, that they are fully aware of the movement towards gender equality but are misogynists nevertheless and make no apology for it.
The third possibility is that the stated reason is not the real reason for denying the film certification and they are either hiding something.
It is tempting to be as uncharitable as possible to the CBFC because of their track record in stamping out free expression, but in this case, even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and allow that they are perhaps not misogynists, there are still the other two possibilities – ignorance or evasion - neither of which are good for either the film industry or audiences.
The CBFC owes us an explanation.