LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA: A Movie Review

By Suruchi Das

Pic: Canva


Tell me,do you have dreams? Dreams which make you fly, dreams which makes you forget the struggle of daily hustle?

Set in Bhopal, ”Lipstick Under my burkha is plodding” with time, writer-director Alankrita Srivastava has picked up instances of real life, and gave it all a picturesque frame. Talking about basic issues like freedom to feel what you want to, be it sexual or otherwise, freedom of living the way you want to; the film might seem bold to the few and vulgar to rest; but it is neither. It is the sheer truth of the society which we have closed eyes and shut our ears to. Although the facts may vary but the emotion connects the audience to the character, you relate to the pain, and to the triumph (this is me!) You may feel hesitant towards what is presented but you eventually start connecting the dots.

The film revolves around four women dealing with life on their own terms. Plabita Borthakur as Rehana Abidi, an inhibited college going teenager who idolizes Miley Cyrus, with a funky hairstyle and strikingly beautiful eyes, Plabita plays it well. Ahana Kumra as Leela, a beautician who is notoriously independent and highly ambitious, planning to elope with her desperate lover (played by Vikrant Massey), the character in the film is both innocent and extrovert giving it a certain sense of vulnerability. (although all the four are showing vulnerability at some point ) Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen Aslam, a mother of three, a Saleswoman disguised as house-wife, and a wife to a sex-addict cum male chauvinist, is flawless. The character is helpless, witty, sad, smart, and knows how to play the cards at hand. Sen has picture-perfectly showcased that woman who is a mere sexual object and not supposed to react, feel, lest ask for something she wants. Ratna Pathak Shah as Usha Parmar aka Buaji, a widowed senior citizen who is also an avid reader, is by far the most promising character in the film. Shah in the film is a treat to the eyes. She is sexy, charismatic and poised, living a life where she has forgotten the fact that she does have an identity except ‘Buaji’ is both funny and thought-provoking. The quality which binds these four ladies is that they are indirectly rebelling against the norms of normalcy in their own capacity through little acts of courage. Bending the rules with their own set of tools.

The underlying theme: life goes on with or without everything you imagined it to be, is on your face giving the plot a seamless reality. The background score is befitting and the music by Zebunissa Bangash is peppy, Jigi jigi by Malini Awasti and le li jaan by Zebunissa are personal favorites!

Lipstick under my Burkha is blatantly telling you, this is a man’s world(Jeena hai toh jiyo, varna jaane do) All the daddy figures, fathers, brothers, husbands, probable suitors, aunties, uncles, other women(not all!) will try to teach you ethics and values, which are designed to pull you back in the cage. The Lipstick which these women are wearing under their burkha is a symbol of rebellion, and probably signifying the fact that no matter how mundane and monochromatic life seems from outside, we will color it with our imagination and willful desires. The film is brave in attempting to tell upon society's facade of goodwill.


©Suruchi Das.