Lipstick Under My Burkha
CAST: Konkona Sensharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur
DIRECTOR: Alankrita Shrivastava
DURATION: 2 hours 12 minutes
‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is a film that symbolizes a wider acceptance for women’s expression and freedom in India. It’s a story about four women- Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma), Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah), Leela (Aahana Kumra) and Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) who are searching for freedom, but are not feeling free because of certain restrictions.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava has precisely brought up a story of these four women. Shireen (Konkona), a mother of three children, is bogged down by her narrow-minded and jobless husband. Konkana in the film subtlety deals with issues like marital rape through her heartfelt performance. She fulfills her husband’s se*ual desires without uttering any words.
Rihana (Plabita) plays a college girl who is always asked to stay covered in a Burkha by her strict parents. But she aspires of living her life to the fullest, wearing ripped jeans and being one like Miley Cyrus. From stealing clothes from branded shops to heading to a club to party with a guy, she does everything with utmost secrecy.
Usha (Ratna) plays a role of an elder woman who desires for s*x after her husband’s death and hides reading her erotic books in religious tomes. She lives her life through an erotic novel character, Rosy, and discovers her se*ual desires until she gets into a steamy phone conversation with a tantalizing swimming instructor. Her character in the film might make you look at the older women in a new light.
Leela (Aahana), is a woman who wants to live her life outside Bhopal and lives out her fantasies and manipulates her men, played by Vikrant Massey. An enterprising beautician, Leela, unwillingly and forcefully gets engaged to an upright Hindu boy by her mother. The impending wedding with her fiancé doesn’t stop her from having physical encounters with her boyfriend.
Each character has come out as a hero in the film. Ratna Pathak delivers her best as the ideal middle-aged “Bharatiya naari”, while Aahana is the feistiest one of all. Plabita Borthakur, as a college girl, shows that dating and parties aren’t only for cosmopolitan brats. Konkona Sen passes out a message that there is life outside a Burkha. She lets her moon light as a smart saleswoman outside her full-time position as a housewife.
Leela and Plabita are quite relatable to the generation who want to live their lives and dreams on their own and not behind the closed-doors. These four women bring out the true color of Lipstick onscreen. They show us what goes behind the doors of a conservative Muslim girl’s room, helpless housewife, behind the closed doors of a girl’s beauty salon and behind the closed doors of an older woman’s bathroom.
The film will start a very important conversation in the society, though it might not show a drastic change in the life of women, but might smudge few boundary lines. These four women in the film had each other’s shoulder to cry on after facing their challenges and paying a heavy price for it. But the question raises, sisterhood alone is not enough to end patriarchy?
To conclude, the story not only showcases the challenges these characters face, but also the price they pay. For the climax, you need to catch the film Lipstick Under My Burkha this Friday.
Songs “Le Li Jaan”, “12 takke byaaj pe, “hassi hai udhar ki” have been very well placed. Splendid speckled cinematography and fine-grained detailing of how the Mohalla is and the people living in it gives you best viewing experience.
As the end credits roll, you might connect to the little secrets and triumphs of these four women. It’s a film that is expected to bring a change in this hypocrite society. A woman’s life is a blank canvas to the people where they are ready to make it worse as and when they want to, but “NO”, this film gives wings to the women who want to live their dreams and ambitions.
P.S: Director Alankrita Shrivastava is the hidden fifth hero in the tale.