By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 21, 2017
Rating: 2.5 / 5
The essence: Lipstick Under My Burkha had a good chance of socking you in the gut but ends up with a playful slap on the face. The movie had the potential of being a Miss Lovely, Titli or even a B A Pass.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is supposedly a slice of life film that leaves the women protagonists sliced by life! And that is where the movie falls flat, lacking that something surreal that would have made it an extraordinary fare.
It’s hard-hitting alright, but fails to hit bullseye. It delves into the life of four suppressed women who take on life but in the end are shown huddled together with their life up in a smoke! Not a single one hits back and challenges the society they take on but willingly surrender to the overpowering presence of their individual situations, and that tears into the entire pretense of a movie so intelligently titled.
The word-of-mouth promotion has certainly done well for this movie as over 50 percent occupancy in a multiplex these days is nothing short of exemplary. However, director Alankrita Shrivastava, although she weaves a good story, fails to deliver that killer punch. Individually, all actors are beyond excellent. They get into the skin of their character to portray their angst and ‘ready-to-take-on-society’ attitude. Every individual’s character is etched out but the crossing of their paths is woefully off target.
Konkona Sen Sharma (Shireen) is a struggling housewife who is ‘used’ by her husband every night. As she struggles to keep the fires of the home burning, she meekly surrenders time and again, as he goes about his ‘job’ with no emotions.
Plabita Borthakur (Rehaana) is a college-going student wanting to try her hand at singing but is caught under her burkha and the tailoring job at home. Leading a dual life away from the over-protective gaze of her parents, she makes merry walking in and out of malls ‘moving out’ with the goodies she desires. Breaking down every barricade, she enjoys life to the fullest until everything catches up with her.
Aahana Kumrah (Leela) is engaged to a boy of her mother’s choice but is having an affair with her photographer friend with who she wants to start a business in wedding photography. The boy engaged to her is so innocent that in the back seat of the car when she is all over him, he requests her to make the first time very special. Poor lad does not know the girl he is engaged to marry has already had her special time!
Finally there is Ratna Pathak Shah (Buaji) a widow who seeks ‘adventure’ with her swimming instructor, posing as character from the erotic book she is reading. A 55-year-old starved of sex, she locks herself in the bathroom of her haveli every night as she brings her instructor, or rather, as she gets to her climax.
As real as the four stories are, they do not have a common thread, the exception being that they rent buaji’s haveli. Everything comes crashing down for them the same time buaji’s instructor discovers that his secret admirer is not the young girl he trains in the pool but a 55-year-old widow!
Plabita Borthakur is exceptionally brilliant in her role of a college student who stitches burkhas by night and by day discards hers to display torn jeans and funky tops, giving gyan on ‘ban on jeans’. Every scene of hers is laced with brilliance.
Konkona Sen Sharma and Aahana Kumrah could have bitten deeper into their roles but Alankrita gives them no room to improvise. Ratna Pathak Shah moves into top gear with a role many actors would sneer at. She brings alive the passions buried deep inside, ensuring she gets what she wants.
Sushant Singh as Konkona’s sex-crazed husband and Vikrant Massey as the photographer boyfriend too chip in with memorable performances. However, just individual performances are not good enough to make a movie stand out.
Lipstick Under My Burkha had a good chance of socking you in the gut but ends up with a playful slap on the face. The movie had the potential of being a Miss Lovely, Titli or even a B A Pass.
Producer: Prakash Jha
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Star Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Plabita Borthakur, Aahana Kumrah, Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey