Lipstick Under My Burkha by Rumeli Pyne and Sayantani Sengupta
LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA
Four ordinary women, inflicted by silly societal norms, have to steal, lie, cheat and hide in order to lead the lives that they rightfully deserve. The women portraying these lives on screen give Lipstick, its true color. Plabita and Aahana are instantly relatable and light up the screen. Konkona’s helplessness makes you think about every woman who is a second-class citizen in her own home. And Ratna’s infatuated Usha, a woman in the throes of passion, will make you look at older women in a new light.
The story revolves around four simple women in Bhopal who are suppressed every day by the society and their near ones and are not allowed to fulfil their wishes. The four characters belong to four different age groups but they have one thing in common which is their gender. They are dominated by the male members as well as others; hence they cannot live their lives according to their own choice.
Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) is a young college goer who idolises Miley Cyrus and is very passionate about singing. However, she can be her own self only behind closed doors. She hides her dreams, her opinions and her wishes under the burkha which she wears every day. This makes her bound to steal cosmetics, dresses and shoes from the malls because she won’t get those in any other way.
Leela (Ahana Kumra) is a beautician, on the verge of getting married to a man whom she doesn’t love. She is unapologetic in giving play to her sexual desires. She tries to find out a way to break free from the rigid norms and taboos of the society.
Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) wants to become a senior saleswoman because she is dedicated towards her job but her dreams are suppressed by her dominating Saudi returned husband who is only concerned about forced physical intercourse with her. Amidst many pregnancies and abortions, she finds happiness in her job. She can easily convince her customers to buy things from her but she cannot convince her husband to have a protected sex.
Last but not the least, Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) is a 55-year-old woman who has dedicated her entire life looking after her family and taking up several responsibilities. She didn’t even have the time which she can devote to herself. She is labelled as ‘buaji’ by everyone and to serve everyone she loses her own identity, her own name. A 56-year-old ‘bhaiyaji’ can think of marrying a 35-40-year-old woman but ‘buaji’ cannot showcase her deep-seated emotions in front of everyone. She, secretly reads Hindi pulp novels hidden behind her religious texts, joins the swimming classes in the name of going to the Satsang and enjoys phone sex with her swimming coach.
These characters live in a building called Hawai Manzil which has an underlying meaning because they all are building fancy castles in the air. They don’t have solutions to these problems; hence all their emotions are buried under the domination of the society at large. The title of the film is also symbolic. Lipstick is a cosmetic used by women and sometimes women aren’t allowed to wear it by their family members itself so that they look less appealing and thus, become less vulnerable when they are on the roads. The lipstick is also hidden under their burkha just like their fantasies and dreams.
The film has a phenomenal star cast and a great director, Alankrita Srivastava! Women watching this film can relate to one or more characters since they are portrayed so well by the actors. The supporting actors are also great which has made ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ successful. It is definitely a must-watch for all adults irrespective of gender. This film will surely remain etched in your mind for a long time!
Five reasons why everyone should watch the movie :-
1. The main subject of the film: This film is bold enough to talk about sex, women's desires and needs, their dreams and their wishes that are mostly left unfulfilled.
2. The social issues it raised: From marital rape to peer pressure and patriarchy, this film shows it all, exactly as it is.
3. It brings out the perspective of every age group: Not just focusing on the typical twenty something Bollywood female protagonist, this movie shows us things from every perspective, a married woman, a college student, a young girl about to get married and 55 year old woman, each character is as important as the rest.
4. It fought the censor board.
5. It talks about female solidarity. Time and again, this movie shows us how women support each other, promoting sisterhood in the best possible way.
RUMELI PYNE & SAYANTANI SENGUPTA