The much controversial movie Lipstick Under My Burkha follows the lives of four women belonging to different generations, with spousal, sexual, sartorial and professional desires in a small-town Bhopal.
I salute the movie for having the audacity to speak about women’s visual and verbal sexual desires and fantasies, be it of whatever age bracket she belongs to – a teenager or a lady of 55 years. It also speaks of the shackles that have had the women enslaved in this men’s world.
The movie interweaves the lives of four averagely-seeming women who have been living dual lives in order to explore and fulfill their hidden desires of love, sexuality, independence and passion. The film is undoubtedly revolutionary, and at the same time quite sweet and highly spirited.
Konkona Sen Sharma plays the role of an enterprising woman, a young mother of three sons. She tolerates her Saudi-returned husband’s passionless love-making with gritted teeth, has to go through n number of abortions, just because he does not want to use condoms. She continues acting as a sex slave to her husband and hides that she’s earning good money as a door-to-door saleswoman since she rightly believes he would not approve.
Plabita Borthakur plays the role of a college freshman who is lost in the sensual world of music, cosmetics, clothes, drinking and smoking. She too has to hide all that she imagines herself to be, from her strict Muslim parents. While the Miley Cyrus fan dreams of dancing and singing in a disco, her parents ironically make her sew burkhas all night in their shop. The character is a perfect example of a caged bird dying to fly free and experience the wilderness of the world, but is too inexperienced to avoid the pitfalls the world offers to women.
Aahana Kumra portrays the role of an ambitious woman who wants to see the world and break free from the stereotype setting she has been born into and has been living in. A beautician by profession, she aims to be a bridal consultant in tandem with her Muslim photographer boyfriend. She reluctantly lets her mother get her engaged to a decent Hindu boy, who, in contrast to her, wants their future home to be so comfortable that they never have to set their foot outside it. Her open desires for her boyfriend leads to several sexual encounters where she is shown to take the lead.
The most curious and comic role is enacted by Ratna Pathak Shah whose sensuous voice narrates the story of ‘Rosy’ from an erotic fantasy Hindi book (a lookalike of the Mills & Boons series). Ratna, a woman in her 50s, is addicted to the character of Rosy and while she competently takes care of her grandkids and handles her business successfully, she also has a fantasy life akin to Rosy. She develops a crush on a macho swimming instructor, and the crush progresses into steamy phone sex, where she is shown to masturbate in her bathroom.
The narrative of the movie helps us address the problems women face in our current society every single day.
And the icing on the cake is that the women are not shown to be raw or innocent. The movie cleverly uplifts our perspective since the women are shown to play a character within a character hinting traces of naivety. Each of the character, with their revelations, brilliantly make you blush, laugh and even shout out of excitement.
The film talks about a lot of elements that even the educated women are shy to address – be it the need of a sexual partner or pursuing a hobby. Lipsticks in the movie stand for the Desires while the Burkha symbolises our Patriarchal Society.
Go and watch it women!