Aahana Kumra, Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah in the trailer of 'Lipstick Under My Burkha.'
Bollywood has been termed as a male-dominated industry since forever, but times are changing and so are the films. Producer Prakash Jha's Mrityudand was the depiction of a woman's heroic act against the evil and Lipstick Under My Burkha falls under the same category. With Ekta Kapoor's Dirty Picture in 2012, which almost changed the trend in Indian cinema, more filmmakers have come up with female-centric scripts. In the recent times, Pink, Maatr and Mom are success stories. Director Alankrita Shrivastava, who marked her debut with Turning 30 that featured Gul Panag, comes up with yet another film which touches upon the current status and sexual desires of women in our real India.
Based in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak Shah) runs her ancestral sweet shop. Shirin (Konkona Sen Sharma) lives in Usha's house as a tenant. Beside her house, lives Leela (Aahana Kumra), who is madly in love with a small-time photographer Arshad (Vikrant Massey), but is forced to marry some other guy. Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) also lives in the neighbourhood with her orthodox parents. She aspires to become Miley Cyrus.
Usha, at 55, is lonely and sexually attracted towards her young and sexy swimming coach Jaspal. Her fantasy even compels her to do phone sex with him. Shirin, being a homemaker, dreams to work and earn money for the family, but her conservative husband, played by Sushant Singh, just treats her as a sex machine. Leela, who aspires to become a wedding planner, has plans to run away with Arshad, but things aren't too easy for her. Rihana is seeking freedom and a modern lifestyle and is on a protest against the jeans ban in the city along with her college mates.
The best part of the film is that the story of these four women are narrated through one erotica book 'Lipstick Ke Sapne'. With the depiction of Rosy in the book, the lives and issues of these four women are beautifully portrayed. Alankrita has a knack of showing her characters as raw and real entities.
The film has been in several controversies since a long time. Facing a tough battle with the censor board, the film has finally emerged a winner. The intercourse scenes are relevant and shot realistically. They don't look unaesthetic. The dialogues are crass and erotic which are in tandem with the plot of the film. Since the time the promos of the film have hit the screens, Lipstick... is considered to be a revolutionary and hard-hitting film, but on the contrary, it is humorous and light. This can backfire for the makers. Though the issues dealt in the film are relatable, amongst four set of stories, only two hit the right chord. Also, the treatment of the stories is engaging and how the trajectories of all these characters culminate in the climax is extraordinary.
Women at an old age can also have sexual desires and fantasies, which Ratna Pathak Shah plays with ample conviction. Her topless scene where she indulges in a sexual conversation with her swimming trainer is funny yet hard-hitting. Konkona as a submissive wife is just too good. Her agony, aggression and helplessness as a cheated wife is worth a watch for your ticket price. Aahana Kumra as a confused small-town girl is electrifying and, last but not the least, Plabita Borthakur who believes in protesting against the orthodox society and its norms, looks cute, fresh and real. Once again, Vikrant Massey steals the show. He is damn impressive in his act like his recent films Half Girlfriend and A Death in the Gunj. Sushant Singh is a visual treat as a dominant sex-seeking husband. Shashank Arora is just about okay in his small role. Earlier seen in films like Hunterrr and Bajirao Mastani, Marathi actor Vaibhav Tatwawaadi shines bright in his small yet prominent role.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is surely a brave attempt by the makers, but going by the promos, don't expect it to be an intense drama of women's misery. The film touches upon serious issues but with a humorous flair. This tale of women's equality and liberation is a mirror of real India.