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Lipstick Under My Burkha-Patriarchy is slapped hard

The Fire of Feminism

by Himel Choudhury

The Battle against patriarchy rages on, and will continue. Women need to stand up, and soon.

TLR Rating: 8 Reels.

The Premise

Alankrita Shrivastava was a pretty unknown figure before ‘Lipstick under My Burkha’ made the headlines earlier this year. Only into her second feature, the courageous lady decided to make a film which would shake the very roots of the hypocritical Indian society. Patriarchy is prevalent in every nook and corner. ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ is the mere truth which Alankrita portrays to the crowd. And as you all know, ‘Truth’ is a bitter pill to swallow.

It’s never too late to dream, to have desires. Quoting otherwise is hypocrisy.

The Present

There are many states in India where girls are still being thought to be a curse. Even today, people believes girls are meant to grow old and get married to give birth to child. Role completed. The film tried to show that a girl too is a human being and she too can have desires and fantasies for life in its raw form. A tale of a girl, Rosy has been narrated throughout the film and the four lead characters (Ratna Pathak as Usha Buaji, Plabita Borthakur as Rehana Abidi, Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen Aslam, Aahana Kumra as Leela) were tied to the thread of the tale in their own way of randomness. The tone may appear satirical but dealt with a somber matter. The desires of a girl always remains under a ‘burkha’ and that remains breezy in its audacity.

Lipstick ‘wale’ sapne

The Plot

Taking the stories of four women and weaving it one thread was a masterstroke. The problems which women in every age group and family face could be brought to light eloquently. Alankrita sowed in the seeds of betrayal, adultery and negligence in the lives of her characters. She put in lovey-dovey stuff, made the audience feel warm and then poured a bucket of cold water down their heads. And she never made the girls paragons of virtue either. Cheating and stealing are sins, no matter who you are or the reasons behind it. She just showed the differential treatment between the two genders for the same offence.

The Burkha can’t shroud the feelings forever. The desires will jump out eventually.

The Pathetic People

The story of Rosy may be erotic but the underlying meaning of the story is different. But very few people realized that. There were a few ‘scenes’ of marital rape and sex, where people were found blowing whistles and shouting, rather than empathizing the pain. That’s the reality. NO ONE CAN FEEL THE PAIN. But Alankrita Shrivastava, the writer and the director of the film gave a platform to a topic which had always remained under the carpet. A woman watching the film can relate to at least one character among the four and there itself lies the success of the film.

The Personas

There are cases where women achieve great heights in today’s world but the number is too less. The greater section of girls and women don’t have the courage to step into the world alone. The rest ends up in doing unwanted things because of the restrictions on them. The hands of a girl are tied up by the society and its norms. And due the lack of courage/belief and several other factors, they end up taking wrong decision which in turns affects them. “Being in a relationship” should not be the sole motto of anyone.

Loving someone is not a crime but one should judge the person before getting into relationship.  Girls need to get much more matured than required and that the option for safe living. There’s no point in blaming the society for adopting a wrong path for life because at the end it is our own life which will be destroyed if we choose the wrong path. The ending of the film made it perfect. None of the protagonists’ problems were solved and that’s the bitter reality.

Why can’t they do this more often? Why should men dictate their passions?

The Performances

Zebunnisa Bangash has composed two of the songs of the film. The songs were good enough to swing you along. The Middle Eastern taste was brought into it. ‘Meri Le li Jaan’ is a peppy track and somehow you feel like twisting to it.

The actors put in very powerful performances. Konkana’s helplessness makes one feel that girls still remained as second class citizen. Ratnaji’s Usha portrays that even old people can have desires. Even the male characters like Sushant Singh as Rahim Aslam leaves you with a pukish feeling. Vikrant Massey as Arshad, Leela’s boyfriend makes you feel to what extent a person can become cheap.

The Popularity

The film was screened in various film festivals way before its official release. ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ had to face rejections before its proposed release in January 2017, by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), but later released in 21, July 2017 after few cuts as recommended by the panel. It got a huge response from people and may be a part was triggered by the film being banned. The movie showed the hurdles faced by girls in the society to accomplish their dreams but in turn the film itself faced hurdles before being released. Oh the Irony!! But we really hope people may get the idea and start questioning the patriarchal mindset.


The author is a software engineer at Infosys and spends her spare time in watching movies and reading novels. She loves to analyze the literature behind the movies.


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