Lipstick Under My Burkha had to go through a lot of trouble before it hit theatres which is an amazing parallel. It’s ridiculous and upsetting to a see a movie about repressed women in society be declared unfit for public exhibition in India by a guy who recently claimed that films shouldn’t contain sequences of smoking and drinking because those activities are injurious to health.
I do feel like a lot has already been said about how it was important for this movie to see the light of day so, I’m not going to talk about that.
This movie tells the story of four women who live in the same house in Bhopal and how each of them are in some way or the other restrained from living full lives. One of them is secretly a salesman (Konkana Sen Sharma), another is living two lives by being a college fresher during the day and an obedient, burkha-clad daughter by night (Platiba Borthakur) one of them is being forced to get married just so she is financially secure (Aahana Kumra) and another is trying to avoid having her house bulldozed so a mall can be built in its place (Ratna Pathak).
I think this movie’s biggest vice is the way it chooses to handle the story. This could have been the sappiest thing you’d see all year if they decided to make you care by emotionally exploiting you. They could have just as easily made it look like the audience was being bludgeoned by one social message after the other but it never felt that way. It felt real. The situations that these women found themselves in were taken seriously and not over-dramatised. It didn’t feel like I only cared about these characters in a sympathetic way, I was invested in their stories and was curious as to how things turned out for them in the end.
Another thing that makes this movie unique is how it restrains itself from going full Bollywood. Sometimes, even though there is a solution to the problem one is in, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the problem will be solved. This may frustrate the people who are sitting in their seats waiting for the third act to start where the women decide to give back and take charge of their lives by doing something like confronting their parents or refusing to be ill-treated by their husbands. And it is frustrating when you realise that you won’t know if everything will be better in the future. And that’s probably the idea, to make you feel the frustration and anger women stuck in similar situations feel in real life when they don’t know how the rest of their lives are going to turn out.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you lose and there isn’t much you can do about it. Sometimes all that gives you comfort is the fact that you aren’t alone and the pain you feel is shared by the people around you.
I’d recommend checking this out. Don’t take your kids, not because of the content but because taking an infant to an Adult film, or any film for that matter is super inconvenient to you and the people around you.