Lipstick Under My Burkha
Ok, I’m going to write this short and sweet. So **Spoiler alert** from this point onwards. Every man who hasn’t watched this movie should watch it. Specially if you think women should be treated differently and women should have different rights from men.
The story revolves around four women of different age groups and the day-to-day struggle they have to pull through. The movie is very bold for a Hindi movie, that I have to say, and it comes from a female director Alankrita Shrivastava. She has done a brilliant job trying to make it as close as to the reality. The events in the movie happens in real life as it is, or in a different but similar way.
A young girl who wants to be like her friends but she’s tied up by her culture, religion and her close minded parents. A very common scenario not just in India, but in whole Southern Asia, and southern Asian communities in other countries. I think the whole part of Rehana shows how a child will react to a strict family environment, religion and culture. And how stubborn will they get and how long will they go to merge with their peers who’s from different family backgrounds.
Leela’s story is different. She’s in love with a photographer. I’d say unsuccessful but I think he’s doing OK. But OK isn’t enough for Leela’s mother and she insists Leela to get married to someone financially stable. Learning that Leela’s mother is a nude model for artists and it’s her job for a very long time since her husband left her, she doesn’t want her daughter to fall into a similar situation like hers in future. Leela’s mother’s attitude towards controlling Leela’s life when it comes to finding her life partner, makes Leela does some bold and unsafe things. She seems to be open about her desires with her lover. The movie emphasize some male like characteristics of Leela in some scenes.
The other main and my favorite character Shirin is married and has 3 children, doing a sales job secretly to her husband, who has come home from a job in Saudi Arabia. And her husband is whom I hate the most in this movie, the monster. He literary rapes his wife, the sweet woman who tries to be the provider of her family where her man fails to do. By rape I mean Rape, sex without consent. And he doesn’t give a flying fuck about what his wife thinks or needs and going through mentally and physically. You may wonder why she does not complain, argue or stand up against her husband, but you’ll see closer to the end of this movie what happens to Shirin after she visited her husband’s secret lover. That filthy bastard has all the freedom, privilege and authority to do anything he wants, but his innocent wife will be beaten up and raped if she does something to displease him. No, this is not just a character in the movie, and yes, this happens in real life and these monsters do exist.
The woman who’s respected in the whole neighborhood, Usha, or as everyone calls her, ‘Aunty’ represents most of the the middle aged loners in our society. They do feel what everyone else feels, love and lust. It’s not unusual, illegal or abnormal for a woman of Aunty’s age to feel love and lust for a younger and attractive man. And that’s exactly what happens in the movie. Addicted, or a fan of, we might say, to erotica, she sees the character in her book as her swimming coach, Jaspal. Juspal who doesn’t have a tiny idea who his secret caller is, gets very disappointed to find out it’s none other than Usha. After the word gets out, her neighbors invade her home, goes through her belongings, tears apart her books and throws her out from her own home. ‘How dare’ they do that is what came to my mind. Being a lone woman of her age and doing nothing but a normal human woman would do is enough be harassed, hit and thrown away from her own home. People, including women, make all these nonsense standards of their own about what people should and not do has been the reason for harassing an innocent woman for expressing what she really feels.
Rehana’s fear, Leela’s disappointment, Shirin’s sorrow and frustration, Usha’s discontentment and anger towards a male dominant society is what powers this movie and I felt it strongly. It’s time for every one of us to be open minded and treat women equally. The movie has portrayed the victim’s perspective beautifully but harshly. And, that’s why I suggest this to every man.