Almost a year after the movie was set to release, this fiery piece of cinematography art finally got released today. The movie got into tornado of nonacceptance by the censor board. The movie came into public eye even before releasing and got huge support from the film fraternity and movie goers equally. And today, bold feminism and taboo rebuking has won.

The movie is set in a typical Indian society, where patriarchy is rampant. In the middle of the usual humdrum of a routine life, four women try to reach for what’s forbidden to them. The story is one of turmoil, pain, swallowed humiliation, unshed tears, unspoken resentment and anger. And all this is not without a bang. Lipstick Under My Burkha takes the Indian woman’s struggle to audience. The elderly woman who has unfulfilled wishes, a wife who faces sexual brutality from an autocratic husband, a teenager who just wants to have freedom to listen to her favourite songs and a young girl who wants to be sexual. Among these characters, a lot is portrayed.

The movie follows the slices from lives of four protagonists. Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak Shah), Rehana Abidi (Plabita Borthakur), Shirin Aslam (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Leela (Aahana Kumra) are four special women. Women who wear Lipstick under their Burkha. Residents of a congested residential building in Bhopal, these women try to fly a bit everyday. But secretly.

Usha, a woman of 55 is lost somewhere in her responsibilities of managing a sweet shop, a building and acting her age. Meanwhile, she yearns the caress of a man. So she keeps herself engrossed in erotic novels and enjoys her phone sex to the climax (pun intended). She goes to learn swimming in the name of satsang and moans in bathroom. She is a woman who wants more than what this society is ready to give her.

Then there is Rehana. A young college student who is a rebel at heart and loves Miley Cyrus (again secretly). She is out of her Burkha the moment she steps out of her home. But she is dutiful too as she goes around helping her parents in their tailoring shop.


Shirin is a super sales-woman by the day and forced-into-duty wife by the night. Somewhere in the middle of being raped by her husband, multiple childbirth and abortions, she finds her sanctuary in her secret job as a sales woman. The fact that she can’t sell the idea of a condom to her husband is well, a story besides the point.

Meanwhile Leela is busy exploring her sexuality with a photographer. Of course,  secretly from her fiancé and her single mother. Her days are filled with managing her beauty parlour and the nights…. adventures. But don’t worry, she is not sorry about any of it.

As a director of the movie, Alankrita Shrivastava has weaved the lives of all four women and their sorry state beautifully. However, none of the four women are really sorry for their state. They are just trying to live in Hawaii Manzil (the building’s name), quite literally.

Filled with no out-of-normal scenario, the characters are relatable at some level. With their struggles and coping mechanism, the audience somewhat tends to turn very understanding towards the characters. The movie is all about rebel and red lipstick; and you will fall in love with the leading ladies. They come and go talking of taboo subjects like sex drive, masturbation and marital rape. That too with a degree of nonchalance that gives the lie to all the preconceived notions that Mumbai filmmakers have peddled all these years.

The movie may have just been initially only meant for the international film festivals, but Pahlaj Nihalani really made this into a movie to crave for. And we should thank Ekta Kapoor for making sure it reaches the audience on big screen.

All in all the movie shows a lust for life even in the down lows. It has proven to be a must watch.

Our Verdict: 4/5

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