Lipstick Under My Burkha

Lipstick Under My Burkha


Lipstick Under My Burkha was initially refused a theatrical release by the Censor Board, because “the story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contagious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society.” This rather strange and sad decision was later, thankfully, overruled by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.


Starring: Aahana Kumra, Ratna Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Producer: Prakash Jha
India release date: Jul 21, 2017
Genre: comedy, drama
Language: Hindi
Duration: 1 hour, 57 mins


Film De Femmes 2017 | Grand Jury Prize – Best Feature Film Award
Glasgow Film Festival 2017 | Audience Award – Best Director Award
Granada Film Festival Cines del Sur 2017 | Audience Award – Best Feature
London Asian Film Festival 2017 | Best Film Award & Stand Out Performance Award
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2017 | Audience Choice Award – Asian Frontiers
Mumbai Film Festival 2016 | OXFAM Award – Best Film on Gender Equality Award
Tokyo International Film Festival 2016 | Spirit of Asia Award


“Unlike several mediocre productions, this isn’t a film that postures as a problem-solving machine; it neither chides nor preaches. It understands that empowerment isn’t come easy (and, more importantly, isn’t even available to all). And how can it in a society where desire is so systematically and mercilessly squashed that the ones on its margins forget who they are. In such a scenario, rebellion is not a reality, but an abstraction.”

| Full review

Tanul Thakur, The Wire
Tanul Thakur
“The deep red lipstick (Buaaji would call it ‘lipishtik’) becomes the colour and mode of rebellion, giving us a hint of what goes on inside—the turmoil, the pain, the swallowed humiliation, the unshed tears, the unspoken resentment and anger. It is precisely this that is so problematic for the naysayers (including the CBFC which tried so hard to ban the film) who want to keep women safely ‘inside’ home and hearth.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Shubhra Gupta, Indian Express
Shubhra Gupta


“A bold, brassy, colourful drama that redefines the female gaze: it places the sex drive of its four female protagonists unabashedly in the middle of the narrative frame.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
Saibal Chatterjee
“Brings in a lot of issues – from dictates on women’s clothing to forced sex in a marriage, it addresses all of them boldly. This is a bold film not because it talks of women’s sexuality but because it draws attention to their desires and problems and does so in the most glaring colours.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times
Sweta Kaushal


“A film that’s sure about what it’s saying, and which says it clearly and loudly at every turn. Female desire, in all its forms… Lipstick isn’t much for obscuring its message; the audience is kept abreast of the action at nearly every step. Purely filmic solutions—like the sound of a drill or a train to convey mental agitation—are few, and sometimes the dialogue is so direct it grates.”

| Full review

Uday Bhatia, Live Mint
Uday Bhatia
“The film wants us to see and understand their reality, but it wants us unbutton, slip into a slinky something and recline in their dream worlds. This delicious, soft pornographic aside — one that tells how these women, hypnotised by their own fantasies, can’t, won’t stop — is a powerful trick, making sure we don’t get lost in their depressing reality.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Suparna Sharma, The Asian Age
Suparna Sharma


“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 associated with carnal experiences is no different from the way the current Indian Censor Board handles the subject.”

Rating: 4 stars | Full review

Mayank Shekhar, Mid-Day
Mayank Shekhar
“The title is self-explanatory – this film is about suppressed women trying to stealth out a little freedom for themselves… Nothing earth shattering for the rest of us having the freedom to do as we please but to the women in these stories, their precious acts of rebelliousness is a release that can keep them sane and going in an oppressive clime, for a few years more.”

Full review

Johnson Thomas, The Free Press Journal
Johnson Thomas


“Each of these women – ranging in age from teens to 50s – longs for a life beyond the one she is now trapped in, each one has reason to be perennially angry and depressed, yet somehow each finds within herself the strength to hope.”

Rating: 3.5  stars | Full review

Anna MM Vetticad, First Post
Anna MM Vetticad
“The “burkha” here isn’t just an impermeable purdah, but the mental block and restrictions that society injects into us to keep us within the LaxmanRekha, the boundaries of misguided morality!”

Rating: 4.5 stars | Full review

Stutee Ghosh, The Quint
Stutee Ghosh


“The lead characters remain human, swaying between desperately flawed, unintentionally amusing and depressingly feeble, just like their environment has shaped them to become.”

Rating: 3 stars | Full review

Rahul Desai, Film Companian
Rahul Desai
“Nursing dreams is a crime that all four women at the centre of this film are guilty of. Dreams of leading the life they want to, of taking ownership of their bodies, of breaking free from the shackles of their controlling families and from a sexist, prejudiced society that insists they must toe the line.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Rajeev Masand, News 18
Rajeev Masand


“Indian patriarchy has long blamed western attire, make-up, and education of girls. This movie cocks a snook at traditions and expectations, showing us what women want, what women really hanker for, how empathy can bring them together, how they understand each other’s needs by just a look, a gesture.”

Rating: 3.5 stars | Full review

Manisha Lakhe
Manisha Lakhe
“The F-word in a movie in which a lip-colouring agent is treated as a tool of empowerment, on par with the burning bra and the brandished broom, isn’t feminism but freedom.”

| Full review

Nandini Ramnath, Scroll
Nandini Ramnath


“These women make frantic efforts to knead out the very last bit of life that is left in them, and try hard not to get stifled, strangled or choked… The men in it are mercilessly forced into compartments that leave them as nothing but monsters who are sadistic, chauvinistic, brutal, perverse, vicious, heartless, insensitive and unbelievably cold… At times audacious, edgy and insightful, and at others, settling for some very mundane feminist ideology.”

| Full review

Velu Nair, Veeyen
Velu Nair




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