Lipstick Under My Burkha directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha is predicted to be one of the most controversial films of this year. It may have fought a battle but have already won 10 international awards with its screening in several film festivals. CBFC refused to certify this film earlier as it stated the film to be “lady oriented” and “have contagious sexual scenes”. Now that the film is releasing on 21st July, I was thrilled to get into an open conversation with the super strong female leads of the film- Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur. Here’s what they have to say regarding the film, the society, and the CBFC.
1. This movie went through a lot. And you stated also that it’s completely a point of view of a woman, which apparently became the central issue of the film. Why is it so troubling for the people for this ‘woman point of view’?
Ratna: Who wants to answer this? (laughs). We have been fighting this for a very long time now. I thought that we are done with it. My mom and her generation fought with this kind of issues. My generation a little more. But I didn’t realize that at the age of 60 I’m still facing these kinds of objections (disbelief). On the contrary, it looks like it’s going to get worst!
Konkona: I was thinking that it is very convenient if we box men and women in certain roles because everybody knows their expectations. She will do this and he will do that and fine, we all are safe! But it’s not that. It is very convenient if women only look after the household, look after the children. Okay, sometimes it is opted by some and they are happy. And if women stand up and say that no I don’t want to do this, I will do that then it becomes very inconvenient for the society.
Ratna (sarcastically): Phulke banana, Bartan dhona, Pooja path karna, paudhe lagana are certified women jobs.
2. So, society is not ready for women to voice their opinion and speak up their mind?
Ratna: Sadly, society is never actually ready to hear an opposing point of view. Anyone with an alternative point of view, whatever it may be, has to fight for space. Women have been fighting for space and it’s a pity that we have been casting these roles of an opposing point of view. I mean the world consists of men and women, right. 50-50 almost. I don’t see why anyone should be more important than the other. But it is true that people do get bothered by the fact that women want to tell their own stories. I think it is a question of thode din ki baat. Let more such stories be made and then it won’t strike anyone.
I’m telling you this film could not have been made 10 years ago. We were not ready for something like this. Thank god it’s made today. It is not like the clear-headed audience are going to come out & say “yes, I want to see this film”. But whoever will see this film; I’m hoping that they would end up questioning some of the attitudes of the society.
3. Lipstick Under My Burkha started as a movie. Slowly it turned out it as a lipstick revolution. Do you think that this tag of a revolution takes a little bit away from what the movie is actually talking about?
Konkona: I don’t think so. The film actually encompasses so much. It talks about the significant importance in an entertaining way, in a lot of vulnerability and it really scoops you up and makes you involved. So I think many people are waiting for this kind of thing to pitch their baton onto.
Ratna: Yeh revolution nahi hai baba. Rebel bhi nahi hai bechara. Revolution hoga aage chalke agar hoga toh. It needs to shake people up. Change is difficult, in men and women.
4. Will this movie break the taboo of women sexuality or at least put it into thinking?
Plabita: See this movie is not only about women sexuality, it is also about other issues.
Ratna: She is the youngest one in the film and she is the one who doesn’t get a sex scene!
Plabita (laughs): Yeah! So it is also about how women are not allowed to take the smallest of the decision in their life. And if this film is making more noise and more people watch it then we are happy. Ab ek hi din mein koi nahi seekhega. When they see the four characters we hope that they will think about it.
Ratna: Also I don’t think that who needs to see this film. Frankly, everybody needs to see this film. India ko sex education ki zarurat hai. We don’t know how we became 1.5 billion or whatever we are. Woh toh bas bhagwan ki daya se ho gaya! That’s why Alankrita made this film taaki sabko yeh information clearly ek baar mein mil jaaye. It’s doing a public service also (laughs).
5. Ratna Mam, this role for you has certainly pushed the envelope. You see Hindi films rarely look at the sexuality of an older woman. What was your thought process while you were doing it?
Ratna: I didn’t face any challenges while doing this film. Nor did I take any special preparations for this role. I knew that there are some members of my family who would not like my role. Earlier I thought that how would I answer their questions. Now I know what I have to answer and make them understand. Since we openly don’t talk about many situations like sexuality, homosexuality, depression, gender gap; I feel that our society is going through some uneven developments.
Older people are considered to retire. Even younger generation are expected to behave in a certain way. So are men and women. Uff! Ab kya sabke ghar pe jaake dekhenge kya kar rahe hai. At some point, we all need to grow up.
Aahana: I was also worried that how my parents will take it. My mother loved it and appreciated me. She said while I was having breakfast that sex toh sab karte hain par baat koi nahi karta. I am excited to see what my father has got to say about my role.
6. We do generally find a lot more sexual content in Indian cinema. Some do have issues regarding certification also but not this long drawn. So do you feel it’s a mere hypocrisy of CBFC or quite an expected reaction?
Ratna: Ugly sexual content let me correct you. And they were discomfort (let’s be kind to them). Everybody is talking about the b****y sex scenes and I’m telling you they will be so disappointed kyu ki itne hai bhi nahi. There are so many other interesting angles to this man-woman relationship and woman’s way of looking at the world. So the CBFC is uncomfortable. In fact, I can think of 5 uncles and 7 aunts who will behave hysterically while watching this movie.
Konkona: And how easily they accepted Rishi Kapoor in Kapoor & Sons about all those dialogues, mandakini etc. “No problem it’s funny but it’s almost sweet. It’s normal and acceptable!” (Sarcasm)
And many times when we are seeing sexuality in the mainstream films, we are seeing it for gratification. But here we are seeing it to sometimes reveal the situation of women, the circumstances under they are in.
We at NewsAurChai wish success to this upcoming movie Lipstik Under My Burkha. And eagerly wait for your future projects!
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