Usha Parmar aka Buaji (Ratna Pathak), Shireen (Konkana Sen Sharma), Rihanna (Plabita Borthakur) and Leela (Aahana Kumra) are 4 different women/girls living in the same locality of Bhopal. Buaji seeks for a sexual reawakening owing to her obsession with soft-porn stories, Shireen seeks an alternative life of a working woman, Rihanna simply wants to get rid of being hidden in a Burkha everytime and Leela wants to get out of Bhopal and have a living.
Lipstick Under My Burkha deals with 4 different lives and their varied interactions with people around them (even themselves) along with the societal pressures forced upon them.
Positive points: –
- The film is carried by aggressively powerful and riveting performances by all its 4 lead actresses who not only hold on the weight of everyday issues on them ably but also seldom disappoint the audience with their act.
- Quite many important issues are raised in the film regarding the desires of women in a typical Indian society, my favourite being the Buaji angle because sexuality of women is one of the least discussed and least understood taboos in our country.
- An interesting element of the film is that the protagonists are shown to be flawed along with being troubled which is quite rare in such types of films.
- The realism captured by the film throughout and especially in its abrupt ending is praiseworthy.
Negative points: –
- Even though it’s obvious that a character driven story paces slowly, but this flick’s pace makes you feel the weight of time substantially. So even if you take a loo-break and come back, there won’t be any significant development in the story (except in its climax).
- While the characters have been shown to have flaws, the script demands the audience to be completely sympathetic to them instead of making a general consensus about both their virtues and vices.
- The script as well as direction becomes reckless as the film progresses especially in the second half with some glaring plot-holes that one can spot in spite of being a casual watcher.
- The Shireen storyline was kind of a clichéd one with her having a perfidious, mistreating, dominant and asshole husband. We have seen such characters so many times that we seriously need a break from them. Moreover, the film completely misses out the fact that women in our society still feel the urge of freedom even with a good and caring husband and showing something like this would have made the story even more interesting.
Direction, Script and Other Technicalities: –
Alankrita Shrivastava brings up quite an important film into the scenario of Indian cinema as well as the society. I seriously couldn’t find any reason as to why the Censor Board had so many reservations for the film’s release. Nevertheless, we are glad that a film raising important questions regarding women, their freedom, their positions as well as their inner sexual thrust has gotten a wider platform. While Shrivastava has been successful in showcasing the above mentioned issues with flair, her directional flaws can still be discerned in it. Blame her own screenplay or simply the execution, Lipstick Under My Burkha has some serious fallacies conjoined with its brilliant exhibition of female inhibitions. While most storylines seemed perfect, the way Leela’s storyline progressed in spite of her flawed characterisation seemed quite unconvincing. A big plot-hole was Usha carrying her soft-porn novels to the swimming pool; I mean why would she carry them if her only job at the pool was to learn swimming. If that thing is corrected, Usha’s storyline never meets a correct completion and that is definitely a problem folks. As mentioned earlier, the flaws of the characters can be noted well but the film doesn’t make them or the audience feel apologetical to their misdeeds. Nevertheless, I liked the abrupt ending as a forced happy ending would have seemed unrealistic.
The cinematography, editing and background score are fine albeit lacking uniqueness which isn’t required for such a film. The music is passable.
The strongest part of the film is arguably its powerful performances and Ratna Pathak shines the most of all. Her brilliance as a Thespian can be noted by her ability to perform varieties of characters with flamboyance. Buaji’s character was a tough one to execute owing to its different shades but Pathak is no kacchi khiladi in her sport and she shows it clearly enough for everyone to notice.
Konkana Sen Sharma does a sterling job as the emotionally conflicting wife of Sushant Singh who too does a great job in minimal screen presence.
Aahana Kumra is lovely as Leela and her act is stellar. Vikrant Maasey does a good job as her boyfriend and so does Vaibbhav Tatwawdi as her fiancée.
Plabita Borthakur is a revelation and she is not only convincing in her avatar but also has delivered it with smarter insight. She can be the next Kangana Ranaut or Radhika Apte or Kalki Koechlin if given good films and proper roles to enact.
Final Verdict: –
Lipstick Under My Burkha is flawed no doubt, but it’s still an eye-opener and flicks like this can help largely to fight against social taboos against women. Its performances are wonderful and the realism is appreciable. It deserves a watch for sure.