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Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie Review: It Is Bold But Not Beautiful!

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Movie: Lipstick Under My Burkha

Starring:Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ahana Kumra,Plobota Borthakur

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Directed by: Alankrita Shrivastava

Rating: ****(4 stars)

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An inherently murky claustrophobic  air pervades this inconsistently brilliant hard hitting raunchy ‘ram’-com, very conscious of its responsibilities as post-feminist cinema on women’s powerment.

Here is a film that deserves a rousing ovation for bringing out the sexual fantasies and other unspoken yearnings of four middleclasswomen in a non-metropolitan milieu eking each out an exciting existence from the hard brutal raw material of her inert life.

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But the film falls short of  being  genre-defining. Shrivastava whose earlier and only film Turning 30 only hinted at the post-feminist explosion of Lipstick Under The Burkha, takes charge with an all-knowing confidence of  four women from different walks of life and belonging to separate generations .

Perhaps  to offset the mess that they make  of their  lives, the lineup of women is a little too tidy and symmetrical. Usha(Ratna PathakShah) is 50-plus, Shireen(Konkona Sen Sharma) is 30-plus, Leela(Ahana Kumra) is in her 20s and Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) , the baby of the empowering harem, is in her teens.It all adds up with a tantalizing cohesiveness, leaving nothing to chance. Maths  in  place, I had seen the same galactic configuration of representational women in Leena Yadav’s fabulous Parched last year, except for the fact that Parched though a celebration of feminism  at the grassoot level , was a visually beautiful  film thanks to its desert scaped panorama which caught the women’s sexual candour in vivid colours.

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Lipstick Under My Burkha revels in its deliriously designed dimensions  of dinginess. This is Bhopal at its most basic strata. The film resolutely refuses to capture the film’s beauty, focusing  instead on the crowded stifling lanes and gullies where furtive sex is undertaken in community toilets and where women have to  toil over sewing machines and microwaves while father, husbands, boyfriends and lovers sow their wild oats and come home in time for the cornflakes.

This film is actually about four women leading dual lives and hiding  dark dirty secrets from the men in their lives.The men  of course are blinded by the floodlights of patriarchy. They are not allowed to show in sensitivity.

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To their credit the vast cast has a blast breaking one kind of gender stereotyping that such films breaks, and also dodging the trap that a film of this  nature lays down for actors who have to talk about condoms casually . Ratna Pathak Shah is expectedly outstanding as the repressed Bua who has phone-sex with her swimming instructor(Jagal Singh Solanki, excellent). She manages to make the character’s inviolabe coyness  a cute cocoon awaiting metamorphosis. But the explicitness of her conversations with her sex-object(interesting reversal of traditional roles here) elicits more giggles than shock from us.

Surely, this Buaji could have  done better that …errr…this.KonkonaSen  Sharma has the most sympathetic and therefore most difficult role as an oppressed Muslim wife who gets raped every night before sleep.Yawn! While the actress is habitually competent here I find Konkona relying excessively  on stock expressions of wistful yearning. Sushant Singh as her insensitive husband shines in a thankless role even when he has to  utter banal lines like, ‘Biwi hoshauhar ban-ne ki koshish mat karo.’

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And I thought this line of spousal thought went  out of fashion withSahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.

The youngest rebel of the quartet Rehana(newcomer PlabitaBorthakur, just about adequate) throws off her  burkha , steals Britney boots from malls and parties wildly with girls from homes far  more privileged than hers and romances a drugged drummer(ShashankArora, dutifully dazed). And when her mortifying secret life is discovered by her shamed father we are supposed to feel protective towards Rehana.

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Sorry, not happening.

The most unsympathetic protagonist is Leela, played with persuasive  gumption by Kriti Kumra. Leela  has a perfect (read: boring)fiancé(Vaibhav Tatwawdi, excellent), a mother who leads a life of shame to bring up her daughter(the mom  has been posing for nude paintings for years, she tells us and we are meant to sob), and yet all Leela wants to do is f..k, f…k and f..k with her scummy photographer boyfriend(Vikrant Massey doing an incredible  volte face from his virgin angel act in A Death In The Gunj).

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What does Leela want? I can’t say. Neither can she. Kumra playing beautician, shares some excellent erotic screen-time with Konkona in a sequence where the former removes the latter’s hair in private places.Again this sequence has  a direct echo in Parched whereTannishtha Chatterjee sponges the abused wife Radhika Apte’s breasts.

A  pity,   Lipstick Under The Burkha couldn’t do to the post-feminist genre what Dunkirk has done to the war epic. It moves with seductive stealth through the lives of the four women but does not eventually evoke  the memorable images  from the great feminist and post-feminist films of Indian cinema including Parched. Nonetheless this is a vital and in many  ways, great film more remarkable for what  it doesn’t say about women who long for sexual salvation than what it does say, so explicitly.

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Why On  Earth Is Sushmita Sen Smoking A Cigar In Aarya’s First  Look?

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Aarya

Season 3  of Aarya is being shot as  you read this, and naturally Sushmita Sen is  super-kicked about it, so kicked that she has put  out a  video where she is seen  in the  best Lady Boss version of herself.

Alarmingly, she is seen puffing away at a  cigar, to  complete her Badass Lady Boss image.

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 There was a  time when women smoking  cigarettes  in Hindi cinema signaled vampishness. If a female actor was  shown smoking it meant she had evil designs  over the  hero, and life in general.

 Sushmita being Sushmita, a cigarette won’t do. A  cigar it is, to go with her formidable image. The last Bollywood actor I saw smoking a cigar  on screen was Premnath in the 1970s. Back then so  many  people didn’t die of cancer  by smoking.

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 These are  different far more dangerous  and deadly times.

Sushmita is an iconic  actor.She  needs to be more careful about the image  she projects . Smoking  a  cigar doesn’t  enhance a woman’s(or a  man’s) muscle power. Nor does it make her look cool.

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About shooting for the third season of Aarya  Sushmita says, “Aarya is synonymous with my name.  I have lived as Aarya for two whole seasons and the love received by the audiences has only encouraged me to do more. Walking on the sets of Aarya Season 3 makes me feel at home and gives me  a sense of empowerment. I’m grateful to the entire team at Disney+ Hotstar, Ram Madhvani Films and Endemol Shine India for the vision of creating Aarya and taking it to newer heights with every season.”

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Shah Rukh, Deepika, John Will Meet The Media  On Monday At 4 pm(But There’s  A Catch)

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Pathaan

Pathaan has effectually discredited the  efficacy  of media interactions to promote  a  film. The  film’s lead actors Shah Rukh  Khan, Deepika Padukone  and John Abraham did not conduct any  press or portal interviews  to  promote the  film.

And  yet Pathaan  is  a blockbuster.

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 This  weekend  the Pathaan producer Aditya  Chopra  of  Yash Raj Films  took a call on behalf  of  the Pathaan team  to do one media  meet at the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai  on Monday January 30 at 4 pm.

The  three principal actors  and  director Siddharth Malhotra  will address  the  media.

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 But  here’s the catch: the media will not be allowed to ask any questions. There will be no  Q& A s or  one-on-one  interactions.This  basically means that the  Pathaan  team will  have an opportunity to  say what it wants  to the media. But the  media will have no say.

Make what  you will of this  one-way traffic.

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A  source close  to Yash Raj informs  me that this is  the   pattern  regarding the media that  Yash Raj will follow for  future  releases: no  press meets  no promotional  engagements.

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Fake Projects of Pathaan Director Being Planted In Media

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Pathaan

Siddharth Anand Denies Considering  Any Project With  Deepak Mukut

A  word of caution to those marketing and publicity wizkids  who think  it’s okay to  plant fake stories  on (fake) projects  with the Pathaan director.

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 It is  not.

Such baseless announcements  are meant only to  raise  the equity  of the  producers  with whom Siddharth   Anand’s name is  linked. One  such  producer whose name  has cropped up after the  spectacular success of  Pathaan is  Deepak Mukut.

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There were  reports  everywhere that Siddharth Anand’s next would  be with Mukut.

Turned out to be a false rumour.

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A  source in the  know informs, “Siddharth now has to complete Fighter  starring Hrithik Roshan and  Deepika Padukone  for Yash Raj.Then  he  is   committed to direct the sequel to War 2 for  Yash Raj films.  They will then start  work on the  next film in the Pathaan  franchise. There is no scope  or  room for any outside  projects  for Siddharth Anand. So every announcement  that  you read of a  new film  to be  directed by Siddharth Anand  for an  outside  producer is likely to  be  a hundred  percent fake.”

When I asked Siddharth Anand  about the  supposed project  with  producer Deepak Mukut he promptly replied,  “NOT AT ALL.”

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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