Lipstick Under My Burkha is not a perfect film… Far from it actually… But this is an important film that leaves one happy, sad and disappointed at same time…
Happy – because Alankrita Srivastava dared to navigate through a subject that is usually a taboo to be even discussed openly by women, and does that skillfully without resorting to titillation or sleaze, rather using interesting metaphors throughout the script.. she dared to dream just like she wants the Rosie in each of her four protagonists to dream and live that life..
Sad – because here are four very ordinary women presented with their day to day struggle to even live a life of little common pleasures, where they are all strangulated to even dream, where they and many around them are all living duals lives and making peace with it not attempting to change anything because they possibly know its not worth the effort..
Disappointed – because this story told could have been so much more. Disappointed because the script resorts to a clunky end of using the cliched smoking metaphor as an equivalent of liberation and sisterhood bonding. Disappointed because the script still appears forced and jarring at times to drive home some subtle points. Disappointed because it still takes a pseudo feminist stand in places showing mostly one dimensional male characters, and does not work enough on the script to make it smooth and integrated enough. Disappointed because the film still seems more focused on impressing the festivals circuits, rather than telling a simple story simply.
The film benefits immensely by getting the cast right though.. Ratna Pathak Shah is outstanding as the gutsy Usha Parmar and is the lifeline of this story.. Konkona Sen Sharma is extremely good too as expected.. I found these two stories much stronger than the other two personally, though Ahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur perform well too.. Ahana’s Leela and her track was the most defocused and weak in my opinion though..
Overall, there is a lipstick and a burkha that exists in the life of every woman and a shade of Rosie who lives deep beneath every soul, and this film will drag them out from the dark closets of everyone.. triggering identification to one or more of these characters.. and creating moments that are impactful.. Well done Alankrita for showing that courage..
How I wish though that an idea like this could get a much tighter treatment and finer finishing that could have made it as haunting a film as the subject demanded.. Sigh!