The much awaited, disputed, critically bashed film Lipstick under my Burkha (LUMB) released this July 2017.
The movie tries to touch upon 4 women and their life’s; their desires, their fantasies and feelings which women are expected to keep under-cover. LUMB bring that out in the open, unapologetically. These four stories revolve around women from a small town – one of a daughter and her complicated relation with being one over being herself; second of a daughter and a lover; third of a bua (old lady who out of respect is addressed as an aunt) and fourth of a wife and mother.
The teenage girl Reehana, daughter of Muslim parents who run a burkha stitching shop and who is expected to be a good daughter, respect her family and culture and forget her dreams of becoming a singing sensation. While she aspires to be a singer and a part of the pop culture. Throughout the movie, it is shown that she lives a dual life one inside the house in the burkha and one outside without the burkha.
The story about this lady Leela revolves around she exploring her sexuality with her lover while she is set to be married to another guy through an arranged marriage system. Her mother lives the life of a nude artist to be able to repay the loans taken by her dad who dies without paying them. The movie shows the reality of a hard hitting life and the decisions a mother and a daughter need to take to be able to live a life of dignity and be acceptable by the society. While the woman is shown to be ready to tie the nuptial bond with her fiance, she dabbles between her sexual desires and dreams with her lover and her life.
The third story revolves around the celebrated BUA (Aunt) by the name of Usha played by artist Ratna Pathak. She is seen as a powerful lady who is shown protecting her old property during the day, while her sexual and bodily desires surface as the world sleeps. Through the movie, she is seen reading the sensual story of Rosy, when she correlates to Rosy’s character and gets attracted to a younger man. Her character shows the helplessness of Indian women who have aged, who aren’t allowed to be who they are in the open.
The last story is of the house-wife cum working woman Shirin, married to a Muslim man who uses his wife only as a sexual device. Her husband who’s lost his job and has a alleged affair with another woman, comes home every night only to rape his wife. And Shirin who is capable to earn a living, take care of her kids and family too is asked not to be the man of the family and yet raped again. Her story shows the weakness and one-sidedness of the society, as the husband bans her woman to do a job due to his insecurities.
While the movie showed clearly the lives of woman, their desperation of being in the family succumbing to the societal norms; and living a dual life; the movie fails to show the hope; the protest; the rebel in these ladies out in the open. The movie also was stuck to only exploring one’s bodily pleasures, while it forgets the all encompassing life that women lead and their other desires. Lipstick under my Burkha would win awards at festivals, but couldn’t capture the hearts and minds of the team at O Womania.
O Womania wishes that Alankrita’s story would have shown women as all powerful, taking the bandwagon in their hands, to shout what’s wrong and fight for the right. While it showed the Lipstick under the burkha, and meekly out of it in the darkness, it failed to show Lipstick out of the burkha.
O Womania Team