Lipstick Under My Burkha

In the climax of Alankrita Shrivatava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, the four leading ladies are talking about how the ability to dream made them suffer badly. It’s a scene crafted through humor and I found it very hard hitting. A film that has boldly spoken against the patriarchal society in a brilliant way facing objection from CBFC for being women oriented shows how dumb our censor board is in understanding the politics and intentions of a film. Made with an honest intent to portray the difficulties a woman faces in our society, Lipstick Under My Burkha deserves to be watched.

Four women who live in the same building are our main protagonists. One is a college going young Muslim girl who has this secret life of loving music and pop stars. The other one is about to enter an arranged marriage even though she was in love with another boy. The third one is a woman who does door to door marketing secretly as she fears her conservative husband would hate it. Fourth lady is a 55 year old widow who is struggling with her sexuality and loneliness. How the dreams of all these characters get crushed by the orthodox perceptions is what Lipstick Under My Burkha showing us.

If you look at the age of the four characters, we can clearly see that the combined result is the entire life of a female. So through these characters Alankrita is successfully showing almost all the conflicts faced by women at all ages. While mindset of the men is the main target of criticism here, Alankrita also invests time in showing us the personal side of women which we very rarely get to see on screen. One such brave thing is the way they showed the sexuality of an old woman. The old architecture of the city and the administrators showing interest in demolishing them is a subtle metaphor for our pseudo progressive arguments.  The four stories are in a way various repercussions of a male dominant society.

Ratna Pathak Shah portrays the role of the 55 year old Usha and her sexual awakening with great conviction. The dilemma the character goes through and how Usha responds to the destruction of her dreams were depicted very effectively by Mrs. Shah. Konkona Sen Sharma also delivers a good performance as the constrained house wife Shireen. Along with these two experienced talents two other brilliant new comers were there. Ahana Kumra as Leela and Plabita Borthakur as Rihanna deliver really impressive performances in this film. The men in the movie played by the talented Vikrant Massey, Sushanth Singh etc. doesn’t have much of a spotlight in the narrative and that can be an issue if you try to look at the balancing of the argument.

Alankrita treats the subject with humor and that makes the movie more accessible. She interprets Burkha and lipstick in various ways. At some areas it is a shield and at some points it is an obstacle. The film questions the male dominancy and the way this movie culminates to a situation where four women are becoming a victim of a prejudiced society is quite disturbing. Each character and their dream is a question mark in front of the audience. Cinematographer Akshay Singh captures the emotions of the characters without making any of it look vulgar on screen. Cuts make the narrative more engaging. The unconventional music suits the story telling.

Lipstick Under My Burkha is a thoroughly entertaining, engaging and thought provoking cinema that needs to be watched. Like I said in the beginning, it is really shocking to know that films in India are censored by an authority who just doesn’t know to read a movie.

Rating: 4/5

Final Thoughts

Lipstick Under My Burkha is a thoroughly entertaining, engaging and thought provoking cinema that needs to be watched.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *