It is a film that the Censor Board didn’t want us to see since it was ‘lady oriented’ and talked about women’s flights of fantasies! In a country where women aren’t allowed to dream, fantasising is obviously scandalous! It shouldn’t be allowed, right? Well, all the hate that came the film’s way from the CBFC intrigued me further to watch Lipstick Under My Burkha. Did it live up to all the hype? Read my review…Also Read - Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai Reunion: Ratna Pathak, Rupali Ganguly And Entire Cast Sing Title Track And Fans Can’t Keep Calm
What’s It About?
Lipstick Under My Burkha tells the story of four women from Bhopal, who are fighting a similar battle. The men in their lives have stripped them off the basic right to be themselves and be happy while at that. An 18-year old college student Rihaana (Plabita Borthakur), a married beautician Leela (Aahana Kumra), a housewife Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) and a 55-year-old widow Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) all belong to varied stages of life but what brings them together is their fights against patriarchy at home and societal norms outside of it, that expect women to live and behave in a certain way. These women find a way to express themselves and their desires by living a secret life. Lipstick under the burkha symbolises their lives and that of most women in the country aptly in this sense. While the burkha signifies the boundaries that these women are forced to live within, the lipstick denotes their secret acts of rebellion to break through the shackles. Also Read - Mumbai Diaries 26/11 Poster Out: Edge-Of-The-Seat Medical Drama Against Backdrop Of Unforgettable Night
Rihaana wants to be a pop singer ala Miley Cyrus and is a Led Zepplin fan, but her dreams are crushed under the weight of her burkha; Leela, on the other hand, finds her town too small and confining for the kind of life she dreams of; Shireen aspires to be a saleswoman but all that her oppressing husband wants her to be is his sex toy that satisfies him in bed every night. Usha has spent most of her life being there for the family and carrying out her responsibilities while ignoring herself and her needs at every point. This dissatisfaction from life, and from themselves for not giving their own self a chance to live the way they want, sparks the urge in them to put on that crimson red on their lips and lose themselves in their ‘lipstick wale sapne’. Also Read - Vikrant Massey's Most IRRITATING Thing; Kriti Kharbanda Answers | Exclusive Rapid Fire
The protagonists do a wonderful job when it comes to taking us into the lives of Usha, Shireen, Leela and Rihaana and touch a chord while doing so. Their emotions, frustrations, anger and desires bear a universal appeal. Women watching the film would be able to relate to the stories of at least one of these women and this fact alone wins for the film. Director Alankrita Srivastava stays away from the cliched portrayal of small town women who find liberation in shopping at a mall, going to a salon or attending kitty parties where they discuss Bollywood gossip or their favourite saas-bahu sagas. At the same time, she doesn’t make the women in Lipstick Under My Burkha the flag bearers of feminism. They are real, common women who have unfulfilled desires and no way to realise them. Lipstick may not start a revolution but it does have the potential to make women meet their desires (sexual and more) and find their own way to fulfill them, sans any guilt.
The sex scenes, rather romps, are shot with a dash of reality and stay away from becoming mere materials meant to titillate. By the end of the movie, you see why Pahlaj Nihalani had a problem with the film. Society’s mentality about what’s right and not right about what women do (in a film or real life) and ideas that bind women, dictate their dos and don’ts are just what the film aims to rise above. (ALSO READ: ‘Sex Is Just A Part Of Lipstick Under My Burkha’, Claim Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah)
The movie is laced with beautiful narrative and brilliant performances but it ends up being a case of great foreplay that’s followed by premature ejaculation. I was hoping for an exciting climax, but came out unsatisfied.
What To Do?
Brilliant performances by Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Plabita Borthakur and Aahana Kumra as well as that of the support cast (Vikrant Massey, Sushant Singh, Akash Sisodia amongst others); relatable characters; and a bold, fresh take on the reality of women in India make Lipstick Under My Burkha a must watch.
India.com rating: 4 stars
Watch the official trailer of Lipstick Under My Burkha right here
The film, which is helmed by Alankrita Shrivastava, hits theatres on July 21.