Venetians and Martians: Lipstick Under My Burkha

1459 Views 0 Comment

Lipstick Under My Burkha is a story OF women, BY the women – For the women and men around them. If Women are from Venus then the director Alankrita Shrivastava takes a space shuttle and dives deep in to the hidden Venetian crevices to expose them to the Martian men.
There are 4 main characters -all middleclass women from different walks of life .. and a 5th character- a racy book in Hindi full of sexual fantasies of women through which the whole movie unfolds. The life of the characters somehow seems to run parallel to the narration of the prose.
Buaji (Ratna Pathak Shah) is an elderly single woman who reads such books and has secret phone sex with her well built swimming instructor. Shireen (Konkona) is a mother of 3 who leads an insipid married life with a husband who rapes her every night and imposes restrictions for her to have a job, while he has no qualms having a secret girlfriend. Leela (Ahana) who is explicit about her sexual desires to her boyfriend while she gets forced in to an arranged marriage by her mother who makes two ends meet by being a nude model. And finally the burkha clad teenager Shirin (Plabita Borthakur) who is a rebel at school wearing jeans and boots, well hidden from her strict Muslim parents who expect her to support them by being a part of the family business of tailoring.
The male actors support the women well, but are inconsequential, they are there merely to represent the opposite sex. Though all the females act well, Supriya Pathak goes beyond the call of duty to give one of the best performances of her life. The dialogues are in your face and hilarious.
This is a story of the wishes and fantasies of women that they suppress due to social pressures of being the ‘perfect woman’. But the suppression also fans the flames of their desires and they cheat, lie and hide to fulfill their ambitions. Age is not a criteria, neither is money. There is nothing ‘scandalous’ and ‘female orientation’ in this movie. It is about our everyday life, perhaps oblivious to most men though as they go about their rat race with clinical precision. Lipstick and cigarettes are aptly used as metaphors for sexual freedom. Perhaps not a coincidence that director, script doctor (Urmi) and screenplay writer (Gazal) are all women.
After all, the Martians can never understand the Venetians despite several space odysseys!


    Leave a Comment