Lipstick Under My Burkha

Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie Review 2017: Desires Unveiled

Movie Name
Lipstick Under My Burkha
Alankrita Shrivastava
Drama, Comedy
01 hours 57 minutes

Lipstick Under My Burkha Review

The introduction is neat.

Rehana has decent parents who send her to college and ask her to help out at their tailoring shop. But under her burkha, she’s desperate to be cool, to wear lipstick, perfume, trendy clothes and party.

Leela’s mother has found her a decent guy. But even on her engagement day, she’d rather make out with photographer Arshad than be with her fiancé.

Shireen lets her husband ram crudely into her every night like it’s his right to be serviced by her. But she can’t share with him the joy of being a successful working woman in her own right.

And then there’s everybody’s Buaji who has nurtured all the tenants of Hawai Manzil like a family. But the respectable senior citizen devours erotic novels on the sly and has anonymous phone sex with her strapping young swimming instructor.

Writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava weaves an interesting story using the burkha as a metaphor. It’s erotic with touches of the comic. By basing it in Bhopal, she uses the small town mentality to advantage with a befitting rawness.

But it’s not a perfect script. Buaji’s introduction to the swimming pool is abrupt and unexplained just as her secret lessons go inexplicably undetected. Rehana is interviewed on TV but nobody gets a whiff of her campus avatar. The chauvinistic husband having an extra-marital affair is not just a cliché but you also wonder how the jobless family man could afford those daily coffee dates. Or, what Buaji wears or reads or does in her house should be her business alone with only the swimming instructor she has deceived having the right to show her the mirror. But Alankrita unjustifiable climaxes with Buaji’s tenants barging into her house and shaming her in public. Since when could tenants become custodians of the owner’s morals?

But one overlooks these fault lines as Alankrita’s screenplay moves in and out of all their lives, allowing each track to grow until the women who dare to dream must be stripped of their dignity for daring to step out of the conventional roles allotted to them. It’s not a neatly wrapped up happy ending but the women do look more feisty than beaten in the final shot. So for what she has to say and how she says it most of the way without holding back her punches, Alankrita’s film works.


  • Dialogues
  • Story
  • Music
  • Screen Play

The Verdict

Although films like Parched said more or less the same things, Lipstick Under My Burkha will find more patronage. The first reason is the title and the controversy around it that has raised curiosity in the viewer. The second is that it will appeal to two widely different kinds of people. The elite feminist will watch and pay lip service to small city girls who can’t do as they please. But there will also be the viewer who’ll go for the potent sensuousness that Alankrita picturizes without holding back.
And then there is a cast that’ll attract its own audience. Seasoned Konkona Sen smolders as Shireen the working housewife. Plabita Borthakur is vulnerable as the college girl who wants to cast off the burkha. Aahana Kumra is vivaciously excellent as duplicitous Leela who has a fiancé but seeks intimacy from her boyfriend. Ratna Pathak Shah who goes from respectable Buaji to a woman with her own needs makes a brave choice by doing this role and giving it empathy. Sushant Singh as Konkana’s unfeeling husband and Vikrant Massey as Aahana’s lover bring rawness to their passion which is steamy and stark but never crude. One last comment is that there was nothing in Lipstick Under My Burkha to warrant a ban by the Censor Board. In fact, it makes a point with unbridled passion and gets a 3* rating.


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