Why do women wearing ‘burkha’ need to wear ‘lipstick’? Why does a Burkha-clad woman like wearing denim? How can a woman be ambitious? Why does a 50-something widow still have sexual desires?
After a long controversial battle with Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Film-maker Alankrita Srivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, has finally hit the theatres. This film is set to answer all the questions, I’ve listed down above and much more. I was very lucky to catch the film at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, in October last year, and I can’t wait to watch this one again.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is set in old-Bhopal in an overcrowded lower-middle class neighborhood. It is a story of four women who live dual lives – one in a way the society wants them to live and one in a way they want to live. Rehana Abidi (Plabita Borthakur) is a burkha-clad college student, helps her parents’ tailoring shop, but also loves wearing denim in college and is a die-hard Miley Cirus fan. Shirin Aslam (Konkona Sensharma) is a mother of three, but is also an highliy ambitious woman, who works as a door-to-door sales woman, without her Saudi-return conservative Muslim husband’s knowledge. Leena (Aahana Kumra) is all excited to deck-up as a bride in the marriage arranged by her old mother, but is also putting together a business plan with her Muslim boyfriend and is often seen having some sensual encounters with him. Lastly we have Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak Shah), the back-bone of the movie, is a fifty-five year old land lady of a residential complex. Usha aka Buaji is an authoritative woman in the day, but falls week in her knees in the night when she’s seen reading a steamy pulp fiction and fantasizing her new crush – a 20-something year old swimming instructor. All four want to shake off the burkhas – physical, social and cultural – that are a part of their conflicted lives – lives that the society wants them to live. These women are not demanding the moon, but want simple ‘joys’ of life. Each find this joy, in their own unique way, find their own chosen corners in constricted spaces.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is a bold, brassy, colourful drama that redefines the female gaze: it places the sex drive of its four female protagonists unabashedly in the middle of the narrative frame. It questions our country’s shady patriarchy culture and its veiled impact on the society – the way we think, the way we treat each other, the way we treat women. The film beautifully highlights this without being very preachy. After all, it is a very serious battle that Director Alankrita Srivastava has chosen to fight – a battle with the society and with the CBFC who initially rejected certification, citing that the film is very ‘lady oriented’.
Very impactful performances by the four leading woman beautifully portray what the Director wants to convey – there is an unspoken sisterhood between them, giving the film an added edge. The very honest and relatable dialogues by Gazal Dhaliwal makes this honest ‘lady oriented’ film riveting and very relevant for the masses. Rosy’s dialogues especially, will make you smile for time to come, whenever you think about the film.
All in all, Lipstick Under My Burkha does what its intends to: encourages women to dream more and not give up on their dreams at whatever age, whatever circumstances they’re at and whatever religion they follow.
Enough of the done-to-death Raj-Simran kind of escapist films. We need more realistic films like this one.
I’m going with a 4/5 stars. Have you watched LUMB yet? Tell us in the comments section.