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Movie Review: ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ Could Start A Revolution

It is funny that the mindset the filmmakers challenge in their film is the same they had to fight for its release.

Movie Reviews
3 min read

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Film: Lipstick Under My Burkha
Alankrita Shrivastava
Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona SenSharma, Aahana Kumra, Plabita, Vikrant Massey

The much awaited Lipstick Under My Burkha might seem perfect. But, alas, it comes with its own set of problems! For one, the pathetic interval! We’re so invested in the lives of these four women and their fantasies, that we just can't wait to get back to their story.

Secondly, we hate the end credits because in the 118 mins we forge such a strong bond with these four that we are unwilling to say goodbye. And finally when the movie ends, the urge to head straight to the nearest Sephora and try on a nice shade of crimson lipstick is just painful!

An innocuous lipstick can start a revolution! No kidding!

The ruckus at the CBFC has definitely worked in favour of Lipstick Under My Burkha – it piqued our interest and strengthened our resolve to watch this “lady oriented” film. In hindsight, it is hilarious that the kind of mindset the makers wage a war against in their film, are exactly the thoughts and apprehensions they had to fight to get its legitimate release.

But it's easy to see what would have scared Mr Nahlani and co. — the four women who pulsate with such potency that whether or not we lived a life of restrictions, we still relate to them deeply.

The "burkha" here isn't just an impermeable purdah, but the mental block and restrictions that society injects into us to keep us within the Laxman Rekha, the boundaries of misguided morality!

Let’s not shy away from our fantasies, we all have them.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Lipstick Under My Burkha)

Each woman in her own little way registers a victory by stepping out of that man-made boundary, and we cheer whole heartedly for them.

There is Buaji (Ratna Pathak Shah), a middle aged widow who is so involved in her life of responsibilities and traditions that she has even forgotten what her own name sounds like. “Usha Parmar,” she slowly utters while claiming the freedom in saying her own name when not saddled with a lumbering title of Buaji.

Then there is Shireen (Konkona) who works on the sly and secretly nurses her dream of being a "sales trainer" – an identity she cherishes more than the one where she must surrender to her husband’s demands in bed.

Then there is Leela (Aahana) who finds Bhopal and it's ways too restricting for her lofty ambitions.

And finally Rihanna (Plabita) who, when not being forced by her parents to stitch burkhas, is happiest around a Miley Cyrus poster or listening to Led Zeppelin.

The women lead dual lives, one self is how the society sees them and the other where they fantasise about how they want to be. Both these sides are seamlessly sewn together, but vigorously pull the women in opposite directions.

Director Alankrita Shrivastava's biggest strength is that she gives us no easy answers or solutions. There are no superficial makeovers and kitty parties or shopping sprees.

These women, even by the end of the film, are no where close to the liberation they desire. But through the erotic stories of Rosie that Buaji secretly reads, her dreams find a language in which they can articulate their innermost desires.

It’s definitely a good film, where you can’t choose who you liked the best or whose thread did you care the most for. Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kamra and Plabita Borthakur bring alive Buaji, Shireen, Leela and Rihanna for us.

These women and their "lipstick wale sapne" will stay with us long after the film Is over. How many films can claim to do that ! Worth all the hype and more Lipstick Under My Burkha is a must watch.

Rating of Lipstick Under My Burkha is 4.5 quints out of 5

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