An exclusive interview with Alankrita Shrivastava, whose last film, Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017) was promptly banned in India for its frank portrayal of female desire. Now, with other female film-makers, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, who have co-written the series, she has found a platform on Amazon that circumvents the fusty genteel sensibility of the Indian Censor Board. She spoke to Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain of India Currents about how the series Made in Heaven (2019) challenges not just the norms of society but also, with the help of technology, its institutions.
So many women I know are bingeing on Made in Heaven (2019), just released in March, a fast-paced, highly entertaining and thoughtful series that takes on the chhee-chhhee (ewww) topics of homosexuality, adultery, sexual abuse, #metoo, and also women’s rights, ageism, and the Big Fat Indian Wedding.
Tina Fey wondered aloud at the Oscars 2019 if microwave ovens would soon begin to make movies, a nod to how Hollywood studios are now routinely jostling on the red carpet with technology upstarts like Netflix and Amazon. Alankrita Shrivastava explains how streaming services like Amazon help film-makers circumvent the Indian Censor Board, patriarchy, and hetero-normativity.
“There is a subconscious self-censorship that always happens. So that is the conditioning that will take many years to break down. So in India I feel we are kind of conditioned… in the case of Lipstick Under My Burkha, they didn’t know what to do with it — they just banned it. So you have to pass that test, and anything can happen with the Censor board. So it’s very freeing to write stuff, shoot it and then just the way you intended it to be, it played out like that… but having said that, I don’t feel that just because we can tell stories on the digital platform, free from censorship, that we should give up our fight to resist censorship in the theatrical space, or in the broadcast space.”
Hear the full interview below:
Geetika Pathania Jain, Ph.D., is Culture and Media Editor at India Currents.