Verdict: A "lady-oriented" film that everyone must watch to experience true feminism.
It is strange to see how a movie that is made to depict the chauvinistic mindset of our society faces the same set of issues to get its releasing rights. Director Alankrita Shrivastava
Starring a talented ensemble cast comprising the likes of Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah, Lipstick Under My Burkha takes audiences behind closed doors where a world of fantasy exists for many. The narrative has to be the film's strongest points. The plot is quite simple. Four women living within societal restrictions in a cluster of buildings called Hawaii Mahal dare to open their wings. Amidst the vibrancy and cultural richness of the city of Bhopal, these women experience emotional and sexual suffocation; thus leading dual lives – the one that mirrors societal dos and don'ts while the other which they aspire for.
Meet Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak Shah), a 55-year-old widow, authoritative and dominating, lovingly called Buaji by everyone. Buaji has a world of her own where her incomplete sexual urges and fantasies take the help of several erotic novels that she reads day in and day out. The beautiful juxtaposition of her erotic novel Lipstick Wale Sapne with the lives of these four women points at Alankrita's cinematic brilliance. The youngest of all, Rihanna Bedi (Plabita Borthakur) smoothly transits from being a burkha clad woman stealing outfits and shoes from malls to being the one in jeans shouting out for women’s right to freedom, singing Led Zeppelin and Miley Cyrus songs. The most feisty of all four is Leela (Aahana Kumra) as she represents the modern woman who aspires for things more than marriage and kids. The most touching and heartfelt performance comes from Konkona Sen Sharma, who plays the role of Shireen, a middle-class housewife representing millions of Indian women killing their aspirations amidst the ridiculousness of patriarchy.
What happens when a 55-year-old begins a phone romance with a young swimming coach, a housewife turns into a shrewd saleswoman, a teenager’s frustration leads her into the forbidden path and a girl continues her raunchy physical relationship with her boyfriend amidst pressure to get married?
The performance by all four protagonists is a sight to behold. Their male counterparts do an equally fantastic job; Sushant Singh as Shireen's chauvinistic husband, Vikrant Massey as the typical small townie and Shashank Arora (remember Titli?), as the college bad boy everyone wants to date. With close up shots defining the complex emotions of the characters and pan shots filming the claustrophobic picture of Bhopal city, the cinematography is decent. Though it talks about loaded concepts like women’s freedom and emancipation, the film has its own share of comic scenes which refrain from making the movie too gloomy or dark. However, some scenes, especially the climax and the one where Shireen finds herself helpless on bed, will leave you in tears.
The director's commitment to make her film come as close to reality as possible is worth appreciation. In the 21st century, women are yet to receive their share of freedom and this is definitely a shameful scenario. Freedom is your birth right and if someone isn't giving it to you willingly, you must learn to snatch it from every person who comes in your way. Lipstick Under My Burkha is definitely a movie which is the need of the hour. It is easily one of the finest cinematic pieces to deal with real women's issues.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Because it is not just a film but a voice for woman"ity". Lipstick Under My Burkha deserves all eyes and ears as it's a brilliant piece of cinema – thanks to ace level performances, a beautiful script, witty one liners, and of course a powerful social message shouting out for gender equality.