In this case, call me old-fashioned or otherwise, the warning goes high. Go watch it with your spouse and/or significant other in life. Watching it with your adolescent daughter is not my cup of tea.
Is it vulgar? The answer is No. Is it sexual? And the answer is No and yes. It deals with dreams and desires, sexuality and sensuousness is a part of it.
Well it is worth every bit of 132 minutes of its running time across deeply scarred alleys of Bhopal. We need such films, and we are going to have a few more films coming up in this subject and area soon. Watching Lipstick Under My Bhurkha is like watching a book unfold visually. The loosely floating stories move parallel. At the end, each chapter leads into another until they decide to culminate into a single message.
One can understand as to why the censor was against it and why the director decided to fight. It is the interlinked lives (not really stories) of four women living in the same 102-year-old Hawai Mazil.
Hawai Manzil belongs to Buaji, and Bemisal Builders are eyeing it to construct a mall. Lipstick Under My Burkha, It Is Not About Real Estate In True Sense, But The Real State, the state of lives, ambition, desires and needs of these four women across age groups. There are constraints and expected facilitators.
There are friends and suggested friends with benefits. There are opening for the dreams and shutters that close the trap. There is infidelity and extreme love with self. There is orthodox male control of Father, husband and love against a unorthodox escape of a daughter, wife and fiancée.
The four women canvas in the film is painted with the help of Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sensharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur.
Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathal Shah), and respected widow of 55 has total control of Hawai Manzil and its resident. In fact, she is looked up to for all the issues surrounding the area. However, there are untamed desires that are cooking under that motherly commanding fragile mind. Go watch her fantasise like the lusty free roaming Rosie of pulp fiction, one who is still in command when she demands her share of pleasure.
Shirin Aslam (Konkona Sensharma) is the wife of Saudi return Sushant Singh. She has three children and three abortions to show for conjugal bliss in her married life her life. Her husband believes in his right to spread her legs and penetrate her every night without any thought of her pleasure or birth control. Unknown to her husband, she is a smart and highly successful door-to-door sales woman of Magic Products. She has stars in her mind and fear in her eyes. She is the quintessential thoroughly outsmarted and a crushed broken-down woman. Nevertheless, can you stop her dreams.
Leela (Aahana Kumra) running her dingy beauty parlour is my favourite multi layered character. She is chasing her dreams of leaving the city and living the excitement through her body and emotions of her photographer boyfriend (Vikrant Massey). Soon to be married, she adapts to the newer reality with her would be husband (Vaibhav Tatwawaadi), yet her dreams do not die so early. She is sensual and exerts her on screen sexuality to bring alive the character.
Rehana Abidi (Plabita Borthakur), is the chubby faced Miley Cyrus faced fan wanting to be the singer in her college band is fresher Plabita Borthakur. She is knowingly searching for an identity that can help her emerge from her Burkha and Bhurkha stitching family. She is very nervously confident in her approach to life and her experiment within the defined boundaries.
I am not great Prakash Jha fan, but he must be applauded as a producer of this Alankrita Shrivastava directed ‘Lipstick In My Burkha’. Appreciate the deft camera work of Akshay Singh in the film. It brings alive the chaos and structure of the town like Bhopal. Moreover, it amplifies and projects the emotions that explode through the eyes and expression of the women finding escapes in their virtual unrealised dreams.
The film uses an old building and the residing families to bring alive its narrative. It in no way is suggestive that these dreams, and the metaphor Burkha are an issue and reality only in such a societal strata. The truth remains, that in higher-up affluent society the constraints and traps change, the game played and the penalties are different. The flaws exist. The two equated Hindu protagonist out of four makes a politically acceptable statement by side-lining the minority exploitation game.
No one will be complaining, if in the bargain, feminism in India gets a new symbol of a large deep red lipstick. Films are a powerful media and in this case, it is used to deliver a powerful message through powerful narrative and expression. Unfortunately, it tries to use one of the most futile mistaken symbols of feminism, a shared smoke between the four women to end the inconclusive end.
I liked it. However, we react to such a subject in a polarised way, hence no guarantee. I just hope you go and watch it.
‘LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA’ gives a twist and brings the subject wide open in public focus. We are aware; it could have been Ghoonghat or Purdah or closed doors or whatever and the stories would have stuck. Everything signifies a woman and her constrained dreams. Sexuality is in an integral part of these dreams across age groups.
STAR CAST: Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sensharma, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Vikrant Massey, Sushant Singh, Vaibhav Tatwawaadi, Jagat Singh Solanki. Director : Alankrita Shrivastava