The first two words of the title form one of the reasons cited by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) when it refused to certify Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. The decision sends a message that bold, women-centric cinema has little space in our country. So what can we do about it?

Apart from supporting the film in question, we must remember that ‘lady oriented’ cinema has deeper roots. Thus while joining the resistance; we can do a minimal bit by spreading the word around, watching (and paying for) underrated films in the sub-continent which have broadened the conversations on patriarchy.

Here is a list:

1. Sita Sings The Blues

Sita Sings The Blues

Dir: Nina Paley, Narrated by: Bhavna Nagullapally, Manish Acharya

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy. Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told”.

Why? The film has a creative and brilliant burst of animations. The film is available for viewing for free, here: (you can still contribute monetarily)

 2. Jogwa

Poster of Jogwa

Dir: Rajiv Patil, Starring: Upendra Limaye, Mukta Barwe

Marathi film ‘Jogwa’ tells the story of Suli, who finds her life torn apart when she is forcefully made to serve the local deity. When she meets Tayappa, who is also a victim of the same fate, they find solace in one another.

Why? Jogwa shows us the magic of regional cinema. It focuses on patriarchy at large but in detail about the Devdasi system and the tale of a man forced to give up his male identity.

 3. Fire


Dir: Deepa Mehta, Starring: Nandita Das, Shabana Azmi.

‘Fire’ narrates the story of Radha and Sita, two women married to brothers Ashok and Jatin. Neglected by their husbands, they deal with loneliness and a world which doesn’t care about the contentment of women. Slowly they find hope within each other.

Why? The first in Mehta’s The Elements Trilogy, it is the first Indian film about lesbianism.

 4. Qissa


Dir: Anup Singh, Starring: Tilotamma Shome, Irrfan Khan

‘Qissa’ tells the story of Umber Singh, a father in search of a male heir. When his fourth child is born a girl, he decides to raise her as a man. ‘Qissa’ follows his relationship with his child Kanwar, a human trapped by deep-rooted patriarchy.

Why? The film forces on to question the norms which make people suffer.

 5. Bol


Eros International
Eros International

Dir: Shoaib Mansoor, Starring: Humaima Malik, Atif Aslam

Though set across the border, ‘Bol’ is equally relevant in India. It follows the patriarch of a religious Muslim family who refuses to accept his transgender son, which creates a conflict within the family and ends up tearing them apart.

Why? The film shows how the prejudice around transgender folk goes hand in hand with women’s oppression.

6. Parama

Usha Enterprises
Usha Enterprises

Dir: Aparna Sen, Starring: Rakhee

‘Paroma’, a 40-year-old married woman, falls in love with a photographer, Rahul, who is much younger than her. When he posts one of her photographs without her consent, her social image is tarnished.

Why? The film is a great example of feminist themes in Bengali cinema. It has been directed by celebrated actor and director Aparna Sen.

 7. Rudali


Dir: Kalpana Lajmi, Starring: Dimple Kapadia, Rakhee

Shanichari, a widow from a small Rajasthani village, cannot cry after her husband’s death, she finds some relief through Bhikni, a professional weeper.

Why? The film is based on a story by the legendary Mahashweta Devi and has a soundtrack which stays with you.

 8. Matrubhoomi

Dir: Manish Jha, Starring: Tulip Joshi, Sushant Singh

The film is set in a dystopian village which has no women. A wealthy father, buys a woman to fulfil his and his five sons’ sexual desires.


However, her life becomes hell when she becomes a pawn of revenge in their community conflict

Why? Matrubhoomi deals with the dark side of men’s repressed desires, female foeticide and bestiality through visuals. (And not simply by narrations)

Gazal Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV