Film: Lipstick Under My Burkha
Cast: Konkona Sensharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
The title is self-explanatory-this film is about suppressed women trying to stealth out a little freedom for themselves. Parched, similar in intent, was much braver and outspoken even though it may have been flippant in its denouement. Like Parched though, this film too has a certain sincerity of purpose with immutable performances lending it further weight.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava shows her concern for women behind the veil of patriarchy by having them come out in simple and interesting ways. Nothing earth shattering for the rest of us having the freedom to do as we please but to the women in these stories, their precious acts of rebelliousness is a release that can keep them sane and going in an oppressive clime, for a few years more.
Four women of varying ages live in a block of buildings in Bhopal. Stifled within the parched confines of their restrictive, though all-too-familiar environment, four women set out to fulfil their desires in ways that might seem pretty innocuous to most. Life in small town India is both regressive and repressive. Shireen (Konkana Sen), a housewife and mother of three is akin to a sex-doll slave receptor to her husband’s sexual needs but her secret day job as an enterprising saleswoman keeps her sane. The self-aware Leela (Aahana) a beautician thinks nothing of two-timing her beau to get her sexual fix, college girl Rihana (Plabita) wants to shed her burkha for a pair of ripped jeans and bad girl fantasies while 55-year-old Usha (Ratna) deemed over-the-hill for sex, is forced to find her release in erotic books hidden in religious tomes.
These are all flesh and blood woman who have desires and outcomes that stake them out to be different from the norm. But are they really, Is the question we need to ask ourselves? Repression and oppression have been familiar power tools of patriarchy meant to keep the woman perennially subjugated. Alankrita Shrivastava’s movie seeks to set the trapped pigeons free so-to-speak. It’s an empathetic and emphatic experience. The performances are first rate and the dialogues pretty much hard-hitting without the added Bollywoodian bombast. Aastha, Rihaee and the recent Parched had similar themes but were cinematically different in tone and tempo. Lipstick under My Burkha gets that ball rolling again, albeit, with a lot more humour and grit.