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Lipstick Under My Burkha review: Story that needed to be told

Konkona Sen Sharma?s scenes with her husband -- for whom sex means penetrating a body lying on the bed with mechanical thrusts -- are an eye opener to a harsh reality that many women might silently endure. Photograph: (Facebook)

New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 21, 2017, 07.32 AM (IST)

Lipstick Under My Burkha is finally ready for release after facing a lot of odds. A film which speaks about the sexual fantasies of women needed to be told. Having Ekta Kapoor to back it, gave it the right push as many TV actors from her shows joined the lipstick rebellion. Now that the film will soon be up for grabs, you should know if it’s worth the wait or not. Well, trust me, you don’t want to miss this film this weekend.  Bollywood Life managed to catch the movie ahead of it’s release in India and here’s our Lipstick Under My Burkha movie review…

What’s it about

A lipstick can be as dangerous as a gun and a symbol of rebellion. This beautifying accessory is the common link that binds the struggle of four women across different age groups and social backgrounds living in the same locality. Rehana (Plabita Borthakur) is a college student whose aspiration to be a desi Miley Cyrus is crushed under the weight of her Burkha stitching sewing machine. Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) is a salesgirl by day and a sex toy for her husband at night whose only wish is for her partner to love her like a man loves a woman. Leela (Aahana Kumra) uses sex as a token of expressing her power in a failing relationship with a boy from a different caste and Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) who is the oldest in the group reads erotic short stories to live out her fantasies of transcending the age barrier to sexually liberate herself. All these women are surrounded by patriarchal figures and male counterparts in the forms of husbands, friends and lovers to suppress their basic desire to be happy. Lipstick Under My Burkha is a story of women striving to express themselves freely in a society that teaches them to mute their feelings.

What’s hot

Director Alankrita Shrivastava is clear that she’s not making a bra burning women’s rights activism based film. On the contrary to the expectations, Lipstick Under My Burkha has several light and entertaining moments. The humour is witty and laced with the right dose of sarcasm and pun. Ratna Pathak Shah leads the pack with a performance that shines effortlessly. Her Bua ji act has some the best lines and she goes for the kill in every scene given to her. Being a stalwart in her craft, Ratna manages to bring the right balance of empathy and intrigue to Usha never making her one dimensional or a stereotype. In fact all these women despite being put in a box by the opposite sex have character arcs that aren’t linear. Konkona Sen Sharma‘s scenes with her husband -- for whom sex means penetrating a body lying on the bed with mechanical thrusts -- are an eye opener to a possibility and harsh reality that many women might silently endure. As an ensemble the cast of Lipstick Under My Burkha score a solid A plus in the performance department.

What’s not

The film does have a few issues that crop up in the second half. These have to do with the writing and build up that leads to an extremely dull climax. As women championing causes of freedom and sexual expression why are they unable to break the shackles after having moments of realisation that the power lies within. Also the voice over track of narrating an erotic story of a fictitious character Rosy and drawing  parallels with the main protagonists feels disjointed. The pace also slackens in the second half and a few scenes are stretched beyond their requirement. Music is average and not required to take the plot ahead. Alankrita doesn’t give the expected closure to Lipstick, perhaps wanting us to draw one of our own. (Also read: Lipstick Under My Burkha music review: Enough variety and spunk in its short soundtrack)

What to do

A must watch for some terrific performances by the lead cast, Lipstick Under My Burkha will hopefully bring to light some issues that need attention and start a discussion or a conversation between women who are struggling for the most basic right in life – one to be happy.

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