Wiley India | This is a thoroughly entertaining film on a society at the cusp of major change, and it’s so natural that you’re drawn foremost towards the character that’s the youngest—a first-year college kid (Sonal Jha).
Wiley India | Her name’s Rihanna. She loves Miley Cyrus. Led Zep’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is “her forever favourite” song. Like the others in this movie, she lives in old Bhopal, which is quite similar to Delhi’s Walled city—congested, conservative, stuck in time. Few minutes’ away is the DB mall, which if you’ve been to, you’ll instantly know, is as good as being in Dallas/Dubai. Wiley India | More importantly Rihanna lives under a burkha. For her parents. And vociferously protests against the ban on jeans. In her college.
Wiley India | The predicament seems similar as you survey the other lead characters in this ensemble film, even as they’re at varying stages of life—married (Konkona Sen Sharma), old (Ratna Pathak Shah), engaged (Aahana Kumra). Wiley India | Essentially they’re all trapped in the same hole—call it what you like, patriarchy, family, society…. You could even find portions of this picture to be hating on men, perhaps for a good reason, but that would be missing the woods for the trees. Wiley India | The issues and lives in this film are evidently universal enough to be viewed and loved at film festivals and audiences across the globe. At one end, this could be like ‘Reading Lolita In Tehran’, or even ‘Charulata’; at the other, a fine dig at mainstream heroines like Anushka Sharma in Band Baaja Baraat.
Wiley India | Either way, hard to come across such inspired writing, top-notch performances, and moments of recognition, especially if you’re a woman straddling between two centuries in the same country. Wiley India | Aren’t we all? At the centre of this tragicomedy is pure and simple sex, that’s omnipresent—we can even smell it— but it’s something that we mustn’t see, or talk about. This sense of shame and guilt is no different from the way the current Indian Censor Board handles the subject. Wiley India | I’m not surprised they fell off their seats when they watched this heavily sexualized entertainer, with Mills&Boon’s Hindi porn for voiceover. They were unable to find words to describe, and ban it!
Wiley India | Suppressing expression of sex, as you can tell, is one of the many ways employed to strip women of all freedoms, agency, and identity. The 50-plus Bua-ji (Ratna) here, for instance, is simply reduced to ‘Bua-ji’ in the great Indian family. Wiley India | At some point, she even forgets she has her own name, Usha. Likewise, the married woman (Konkana) with husband, and three kids, has no desires outside the confines of the family and home.
Wiley India | These women are considered perfect audience for saas-bahu soap operas about kitchen politics on Indian television. Most of those shows have been produced by Ekta Kapoor, who incidentally has picked up this pic to distribute as presenter. Wiley India | The shows currently she does for younger online audiences, DevDD for example, are about small-town women getting laid.
Wiley India | This already tells you ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, timed to perfection, mirroring the world we live in, is narrating a story about a society at the edge of a revolution. Look carefully at young Rihanna. Wiley India | She will lead a movement, if not for herself, then for her kids, for sure. Look carefully at this film. It will move you, for sure.Wiley