#FREETHENIPPLE

An Indian TV star uses her bra to shame the country’s censor prudes

Quartz india
Quartz india

If there’s one thing India really needs, it’s the #FreeTheNipple movement.

Priya Malik, a former contestant on reality shows Big Brother and Bigg Boss, seems to agree. The TV personality took to Instagram on Aug. 29 to protest a recent decision by the Indian censor board to cut out an “offensive” scene from the upcoming Bollywood movie Baar Baar Dekho. The problem? It showed a bra.

In her Instagram post, Malik posed with a bra hanging in the background to push back against the claim that women’s underclothes must be hidden away.

Because wearing a visible #bra would be indecent. #FreeTheNipple

A post shared by Priya Malik (@priyasometimes) on

In India, like in other parts of the world, women’s bodies are routinely shamed and hyper-sexualised in the same breath, prompting strict policing of clothing and behaviour. It’s almost as though everything about a woman’s body must be kept under wraps. Except, of course, when it comes to raunchy and demeaning item songs.

Besides, this isn’t the first time the Indian censor board has displayed prudery. Its current chairperson, Pahlaj Nihalani, had earlier said that his mission is to “clean up Indian cinema.” The result has been a series of arbitrary cuts in movies.

In June, for instance, the board came under fire for claiming that the movie Udta Punjab defamed the northern state of Punjab by talking about its drug problem. The director, Anurag Kashyap, was asked to remove all references to the state from the film and include a note acknowledging the government’s efforts to solve the problem. The film was eventually given an “A” (adult) certification after 13 scenes were cut from it.

Being offended by a bra is its latest attempt to enforce its bizarre, and often archaic, ideas on modern Indian cinema.

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