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Lipstick Under My Burkha: Dear modern age, let's think and do better! Sincerely, women
An open-letter signed by the women sorority.

Some may have watched it and as usual liked or disliked it, whereas others genuinely doubt it. Albeit, by now almost everyone would have heard about “Lipstick Under My Burkha”.

After more than a year of outcry with the CBFC, along with countless festival selections and international awards later, the revised version released in its homeland. Though, with the underlining question – “what does this outspoken social-drama really represent

Once a “critical person” from Piku said – “All that a husband wants is that wife should serve food during the day and sex at night.” Truly, a caustic way of explaining patriarchy at its worst; not to forget that domination over the fairer sex isn’t limited to the aforementioned.

So enter – ladies from different ages and beliefs with their simple lives.
A 55-year-old “Buaji” (Ratna Pathak Shah), widowed and childless, heading an extended family of generations of ‘halwaais’; a burkha-clad 30-something mother of three (Konkona Sen Sharma) being a conservative and obedient homemaker; a 25-ish beautician (Aahaana Kumra) living with her long-widowed mother, arranged to marry a decent man; and then a teenage college girl (Plabita Borthakur) who sews burkhas in her family’s tailor shop.

However, experience tells us that people are always more than one thing – because our Buaji longed for a lover’s touch while making anonymous, amorous calls to her young strapping swimming instructor while reading lusty pulp-fiction; that homemaker moonlighted during the day as a sales-woman yet, unable to tell her lust-hungry, dominating husband of her job. Our beautician held big-city-dreams with her photographer boyfriend and their steamy relationship; whereas, our teenaged lady, aka “aspiring Miley Cyrus”, demanded her ‘right to live’ in college through her shoplifted apparels.

Desires, dreams and mischiefs – our ladies’ club bustled in that middle-class Bhopal; up to the point when the narrative created and subsequently broke the façade of societal free-will. Adding a heartfelt touch of Buaji taking a while to answer her real name on being asked by her crush, or the saleswoman wife cleverly confronting her husband’s girlfriend – were amongst several embellishments.

The climax depicting those smoke-puffing heroines’ glumly-giggling faces, doomed for the lifetime gently reminding of warriors – beaten, broken but undefeated.

Amidst the beautiful scoring (Mangesh Dhakde, “Hawaizaada”) and merry music (Zebunissa Bangash of Coke Studio) tailored by a spic-and-span editing (Chaaru Shree Roy, “Haraamkhor”), the writer-director Alankrita Srivastava delivered a matured study in modern womanhood.

Garnered by brilliant casting – especially the gem of Pathak Shah with her “middle-class” act – in a team effort of young and veterans in emoting both bravely and unabashedly even when the film didn’t end up to a solution but, raised genuine questions with aplomb.

From the pulsating call to end dress code or the freedom to earn a living, this is an articulate attempt to clear any airs about those who took this film as ‘vulgar’ (citing A-certification and what not), or something as basic as criticising a working woman for stepping out of a well-off home. That disparity our present, ‘modern’ society can’t be overlooked in the process of being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister. Not world domination, but at least simple independence should come at lower costs.

Therefore, it made good sense when Priyanka Chopra told Kapil Sharma on being asked about her ever increasing wealth and fame, “Since us women have to put four times the effort than men to earn the same; hence, I’ll work harder  to earn as much as you.” Amidst a thunderous applause, even Kapil couldn’t help but flash a smile at that.

An 8.25/10 for a rare effort in cinema, and a refreshed sense of understanding.

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