Lipstick Under My Burkha

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Ace rate dialogue and performances. The topic isn't broached often enough in films. But once it is, we know where it's headed, making this film predictable too.

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Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Adult comedy, Social
More Movie Info

It is only apt that the censor board wanted to censor a whole lot – it is about women's liberty after all. When husbands and boyfriends, fathers and brothers, some times the women in their lives too, extended family, society, governments – all want a say in that liberty, why not the censor board?

Even if you are not 55 nor 17 like the characters; even if you are not a suppressed housewife or an outgoing woman with desires of her own, you know an aunt, a cousin, a friend who is/has been there.

The metaphor of a “burkha” is underlined, emboldened and italicised – just in case you miss it. Every dialogue, every frame is a social remark, especially in the first half. The comment is that about oppression under the garb of protection, tradition, culture and so on. Fortunately, the stifled voices don't get preachy, even though they are empowered, alright. The comment is left at that, in stating the fact as a fact.

This stays true to the texture of the film too. If the film provided an over-arching solution, it would be quite out of place. In that sense, Lipstick Under My Burkha has a perfect climax. Also, well done by the writing department is the dialogue and its delivery. The lines are snappy and people talk like people and not actors.

The main characters – none of whom are “right” in what they are doing. If only, the “villains” of their lives were not so one-dimensional. Then again, that is what these people become for stifled women – villains, be it a father or the society at large. That is how these women make you feel for them. Each of these women – Leela (Aahana Kumra), Rehana (Plabita Borthakur), Shirin (Konkona Sen Sharma), Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) - do what they really want to do. Yet, it is the struggle they have to go through, both internal and external, which makes them even more real.

Of course, that is all due to the spot-on depiction by Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur. Ratna Pathak Shah has the most difficult task at hand. The biggest bit is to depict the sexuality of a 55-year old, but her character is also the strength of many around her. This contrast between being a support system and yet needing a hand to hold is very rarely seen in Hindi films.

This is the kind of greyness in character that makes you identify with the film's characters. Even if you are not 55 nor 17 like the characters; even if you are not a suppressed housewife or an outgoing woman with desires of her own, you know an aunt, a cousin, a friend who is/has been there. Which is what makes you let go of the skewed take on gender. For that aunt, cousin or friend the world is indeed a dark cage.

Does it mean we paint all men with a broad stroke of black then? That doesn't seem right or real either. It is this, even if not overt, male-bashing and the self-pity that it masks that bothered me after a while.

If the film provided an over-arching solution, it would be quite out of place.

Like many “social issue” films, it is difficult to look at movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha, as just a story - like say a story of these 4 women of different ages, from different religions, with different support systems who happen to live in one area of a big city. You cannot not think of the issue they want to discuss. The movie clearly has an agenda and flaunts it on its sleeve. If it is the agenda then, I know it, I live it. Men are not all mean. The level-headed ones might not be living it, but they know and are supportive of it – at home, in the workplace. The other men are unlikely to see the film. Even if they do, they are more likely to laugh at Ushaji (like the few men in the audience where I saw the film) than become sensitive to her desires as real. How does this help? I wouldn't have asked this question had it not come across as the one thing the film wanted to do – sensitize the viewer. Even so, Lipstick Under My Burkha can be watched for its snappy dialogue and sensitive, intense performances.

- meeta, a part of the audience

26 reviewers(?) - 21 yays 4 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...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. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...A must watch for some terrific performances by the lead cast, Lipstick Under My Burkha will hopefully bring to light some issues that need attention and start a discussion or a conversation between women who are struggling for the most basic right in life – one to be happy. ... full review

Thumbs up, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...All the actors are excellent. But my favourite was Aahana Kumra. I have met many Leilas. They are all mental and fabulous. They make life difficult and worth ... full review

Thumbs up, by Zinia Bandyopadhyay, Desi Martini : ...You should definitely go and watch this film. And in case you fail to find what's so great and beautiful about it, please ask someone who finds it brilliant and allow yourself to get enlightened. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Usha Shrivas, Desi Martini : ...फिल्म का निर्देशन अलंकृता श्रीवास्तव ने किया है और फ़िल्म के हर सीन और कहानी पर बेहतर तरीके से काम किया गया है। ऑडियंस की पसंद बदलने के लिए ये उनकी अच्छी कोशिश है। महिलाओं की आज़ादी पर बनी ये फिल्म बाहरी आज़ादी के साथ आंतरिक आज़ादी और इच्छाओं को पूरा करने की मांग करती है। ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...Director Alankrita Shrivastava has crafted a bold and beautiful film. It showcases a serious problem with society with the right amount of élan. It takes a heavy subject and presents it with alacrity. This film affirms your faith in girl power. Its a definite must watch. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...So of course Lipstick Under My Burkha could potentially upset many, many people. It has the ability to grab a person by the collar, shake them up and make them feel unsettled even if they refuse to introspect. I am willing to bet that Pahlaj Nihalani’s Censor Board will not be the last conservatives unnerved by this feisty, disturbing yet celebratory film. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Lipstick under My Burkha gets that ball rolling again, albeit, with a lot more humour and gri... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, : ...Go if you demand something different and cinematic this weekend. You won't regret it. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times : ...This is a film you must not miss as it is not everyday that Bollywood films talk of women and their desires. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...Lipstick Under My Burkha is truly an ensemble film in which every performer leaves her or his mark. But to Sensharma and Pathak belong the film's finest moments, some that make you giggle and others that make you feel their pain. "Pata hai hamari galti kya hai? [You know what's the mistake we make]" asks Leela to Shirin whose silence and moist eyes speak volumes of her relationship with her husband. "Hum sapne bahut dekhti hai. [We dream a lot]" Shrivastava's film is a plea for women to not give up on their dreams and their voices silenced in the patriarchal society. That she does it without being preachy and in an engaging mode makes her film even better.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anish Mohanty, Kia Gia : ...Fun, emotional, inspiring, dousing, entertaining and thought – provoking are some of the adjectives one would use to describe 'Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Despite projecting ourselves as a developing nation that aims to be a superpower in the future, the fact remains that we are largely a socially, culturally and religiously conservative country that needs to evolve vastly before it can hope to achieve any of these things. The importance of gender equality is widely discussed all over the globe. This discussion needs to pick up pace in countries like India where women ago through different kinds of suppression on a daily basis. The fact that this film was initially denied a certificate by the Censor Board for being 'lady-oriented' says it all. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Ahana Bhattacharya, koimoi : ...This is a brave film which many in this male chauvinistic society might find difficult to digest. Although I failed to understand what is so “lady-oriented” about the film I would definitely thank CBFC for making me more curious about it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...This already tells you Lipstick Under My Burkha, timed to perfection, mirroring the world we live in, is narrating a story about a subaltern, small-town Indian society at the edge of a revolution. Look carefully at young Rihana. She will lead a movement, if not for herself, then for her kids, for sure. Look carefully at this film. It will move you as well. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...Take my word for it: Lipstick Under My Burkha is an eye-opener for sure...... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...For a film that received much press for its "oral pornography", Gazal Dhaliwal's dialogues touch a necessary nerve. Agreed, the film has a scene where a middle-aged woman masturbates while having phone sex and there's a passing reference to someone's lips kissing her "jannat". But aborting this sequence from the film wouldn't circumcise the spectrum of emotions that so many Indian women even dread to acknowledge, leave alone experience. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, : ...On the flip side, the male characters are almost all dominating and unsympathetic, thereby perpetuating the popular feminist stereotype of men. The film’s ending too comes off as contrived and clunky, one of the only bits that doesn’t ring true. But these are minor hiccups in a bold, honest film that hits the right notes. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Lipstick Under My Burkha. It’s accessible and entertaining; that rare film about empowerment that delivers plenty laughs. Make sure not to miss it. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Manisha Lakhe, Now : ...You'll love Ratna Pathak Shah as Buaji and Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen. But it's the two younger girls Plabita Borthakur and Aahana Kumra who hold their own. Watch it and renew your lipstick if you are a girl, and buy your girl one, if you are a lad. But don't miss this film. It's reality served with dollops of humor. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Problems and predicaments that are easy to relate to, performances that are forceful and a film that remains breezy in its audacity ... full review

Thumbs up, by Nihit Bhave, Times of India : ...While cinematographer Akshay Singh uses tight close-ups in cramped spaces to make you claustrophobic, Gazal Dhaliwal’s lines range from hilarious innuendos in seedy novels to out-of-character outbursts of frustrated women. ... full review

Thumbs up, Zee News : ...Although the four protagonists are not related to each other in the film, the dexterous manner in which their lives are interwoven is laudable and speaks volumes for the cleverly crafted screenplay.Overall, the hype surrounding this film is bound to get you to watch it and disappoint it won’t. ... full review

So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA deserves praise for its brave premise, characters and storytelling. At the box office however, the film will face an uphill task as the risqué and unconventional content will appeal only to niche audiences and that too just in the metropolitan cities. ... full review

So-So, by Dev Raj Gulati, Desi Martini : ...The intimate scenes leave nothing to imagination.They have more to do with the foreign audience and the box office receipts .The movie does draw the urban nichie audience.The performances are uniformly real.The issue of women emancipation is merited.What lacks is that the treatment is too one sided. Is it possible to offer solution without making it a gender issue?... full review

So-So, by Harshada Rege, DNA : ...Watch it for the brilliant performances. ... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Shrivastava (who’s also the screenwriter) opts for an inflexibility of characterization that stifles the stories. In both cases the oppressors—nightmare conservative parents in Rehana’s case, a despicable husband for Shireen —are so unvaryingly unpleasant and narrow-minded that there’s a feeling of watching a game whose outcome is pre-decided.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sreehari Nair, Rediff : ...Lipstick Under My Burkha touches, fleetingly, upon this aspect of female bonding that is removed from the compulsions of protesting... full review

88 tweeters(?) - 74 yays 6 so-so 8 nays

waglenikhil: Do watch 'Lipstick under my burkha' this weekend. A thoughtful film on suppression of woman's natural desires in male chauvinistic society.

voxspacex: In dealing with issues speak of liberation and womanhood, Lipstick Under My Burkha becomes an important movie for...

vivekisms: That's what makes Lipstick under my Burkha so melancholic, bittersweet, relatable and you are left hooting for these four women.

vishalkalia2: Part 2 of Lipstick Under My Burkha is lovely. You shouldn't miss it #RatnaKonkonaTalksToUC @UCNews_India

vigim4789: #MovieReview – #LipstickUnderMyBurkha – U Will Smile, But Also Not Forget to Weep, As U Relate To This Honest Drama…

UsmanAnwar78: Lipstick Under My Burkha casts an honest, unsparing look at what it means to be a woman in small-town India.

UnBumf: Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie Review: A Relatable And Realistic Entertainer

tremoundoustaru: Do not miss Lipstick Under My Burkha at any cost. For if not anything else, it will certainly liberate your...

taslimanasreen: Watched 'Lipstick under my burkha' today. Saw dreams and disappointments. Not a great movie but a good one.

Ssumier: Lipstick Under my Burkha is not a movie... its an experience , its voice of a many of such small (cont)

sshhaaiillii: Just finished watchin lipstick under my Burkha - no idea y there is a swing in my step as I walk out of the movie hall

sreyesravi: Lipstick under my Burkha often feels contrived. But Rathna Pathak Shah and Aahana Kumra paint it with 500 shades of grey. #gowatch

sreekar_112358: Lipstick under my burkha, much needed movie.

somakbasu: Lipstick Under My Burkha is exceptional. One of the bests this year. Have merely seen a movie as powerful as this one.

shxrvxsh: Lipstick under my burkha is such a good movie you need to watch!!! @maadzs

ShreyaEats: This has been am excellent movie weekend. Lipstick Under my Burkha Breakfast Club Dunkirk

ShivIyer7: Lipstick Under My Burkha Review - 4/5 Ratings Casting:- Ratna Pathak as Usha "Rosy" Buaji Plabita Borthakur as...

shahedrahmansuv: Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie Review: Sense Of A Woman

scarysouthpaw: Saw Lipstick under my Burkha. Mind=Blown. Ratna Pathak Shah is just too good. Must see.

scaryhairyman: Lipstick Under My Burkha was a fantastic watch. Also, Plabita Borthakur is so pretty. <3

Sawani_b: Lipstick Under My Burkha..... Badass

saumyabaijal: Two Ls & Two Rs: Lipstick Under My Burkha Is A Must Watch via @womensweb

sandy_chirag4u: MUNNA MICHAEL was a Washout Dud. I chose, liked, loved and enjoyed LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA more than DUNKIRK ......

ruSh_Me: Lipstick Under My Burkha is funny and not so. Real and surreal. Still thinking about the 4 women and their lives.

rohit5k2: Lipstick Under My Burkha A bloody must watch!

rafiulrahman: Lipstick Under My Burkha is not a film; it's a revolution! From an extremely powerful script to its wonderful...

raahulworld2009: Lipstick Under My Burkha is a must watch.. Shows the life of simple women in a brilliant way.

purnangshupaul: Lipstick Under My Burkha is the most progressive film of our times. Exceptionally well acted and controlled.

pujachanchlani: Lipstick under my burkha, got my mind fucked in all possible ways! #Darkcinema #LipstickUnderMyBurkha

proudlibran: We need films like Lipstick Under My Burkha to shatter all the stereotypes that exist in our society,

Plebeian42: Quite liked Lipstick Under My Burkha. Review: #re

PaaniKumChai: Watch Lipstick Under My Burkha, once. All of you. Ek baar. #LipstickUnderMyBurkha ⭐

ordinarryhes: I'm hoping tomorrow's plan of Lipstick Under My Burkha works out. That will make it two amazing movies in one week

NIKHILMAHAJAN7: Really sad wd peoplz response##bt super thumbs up to the movie #lipstick under my burkha

NamkeenJalebi: Zeb has sang Le Li Jaan for Lipstick Under my Burkha and its quite good.

MrVaibhavPatel: "Lipstick Under My Burkha'. Watch it, and if possible ACCEPT that! #LipstickUnderMyBurkha #Cinema #India #MovieBuff…

maryanntheresa: Lipstick Under My Burkha, absolutely fantastic! Brilliantly made @alankrita601 and @konkonas such strong screen presence.

MadNotani: Loved Lipstick Under My Burkha. Ending is bit absurd ..I m still thinking , y it ended that way

LipstickMovie: "#LipstickUnderMyBurkha is a cinematic masterpiece which will liberate your soul",says!

kirtibasal: Lipstick Under My Burkha is a great story of 4 women. #RatnaKonkonaTalksToUC Full Interview

kgjmoment: This female universe with confidences and conspiring silences is exactly what we needed.

kcunal: Watched the movie Lipstick Under My Burkha today. It's so mature and well made. No wonder Nihalani and his posse wanted it banned.

KaveriGopakumar: Watchd 'Lipstick under my burkha' Kudos to the team.A taboo subject can still be a feel good film, if u hav the likes of @konkonas #Respect

KamathGurudutt: Vaibhav Tatwawaadi: Awesome, OUTSTANDING, performance in Lipstick Under My Burkha! Thank you, Sir. Truly proud of you. @vaibbhavt

KalyaniAdhav: Lipstick Under My Burkha is a good start for movies that don't look at female pleasures as a taboo

junmyeonsbae: I watched Lipstick under my Burkha and I recommend you that movie, it has a great message & I love how it was made

irklechameleon: - Irkle strolling to the cinema to watch “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, as the “award-winning…

idrrajdeep: Here's a film about women & the society as a whole that is thought provoking & equally entertaining.Lipstick Under My Burkha is a winner.

IdiocreLife: Lipstick under my burkha is a must watch people..the narration is just too good..

i_dhawan: Watched lipstick under my burkha With my own gf Awsm movie @AnahatSagar @I_DeModitised @sheela1992ss

hetsatra: Waited 2 hours for this film to turn cringeworthy but it didn't. Fantastic amazing awesome. Lipstick Under My Burkha is elite. @konkonas

GulatiAashna: Making her first feature as a writer, Arita Abrol talks about the film that's breaking records and mindsets!

gulabiglares: Finally Lipstick under my Burkha has released! U must watch Ratna & Konkana sharing the scoop…

GujjuBoss: Lipstick under my burkha:- 3.5/5 Dunkrik. :-4/5 Cash on delivery :-3.5/5

dragonstonelord: "Lipstick under my burkha" proves that director women can tell better stories than men on female sexuality. Daring movie like Parched.

divyadutta25: Lipstick under my Burkha.... absolutely!!!qudos Alankrita fr such an amazing film!!

divya_moorjani: Lipstick under my burkha seems the perfect to watch alone. #Ballsy A book during the interval is my scene waise bhi.

CharuSxn: lipstick under my burkha #lipstickundermyburkha right now

bpsemwal: "Dunkirk" & Lipstick under my burkha..awesome movies..must watch.

boat_of_bones: This may sound like hyperbole but Lipstick Under My Burkha is one of the most important films to release this year.

blesseduttam: The dialogues of# lipstick under my burkha have a brilliant subtext.great film.

bigbacontheory: Lipstick under my Burkha was good. Now, I need to somehow see the uncut version.

BakshiSayan: Released yesterday, Lipstick Under my Burkha is now more than a film!! Catch this remarkable…

ArchanaTaide: Lipstick under my burkha represents d kind of film we need more of, with its deep, personal, political and powerful look into women’s lives.

anu1122: Loved @konkonas in Lipstick under My Burkha. A refreshing break from stale stereotypes.

anika_gupta: Lipstick Under My Burkha is fantastic! Just at the interval but superb acting, characters, directing!

amiypandey: Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie review: Secret lives of small-town women make a bold, colourful drama - FacenFacts

Amit1804: Movie Review: दमदार किरदारों के आसपास घूमती कहानी है 'लिपस्टिक अंडर माई बुर्का'#mustwatch #LipstickUnderMyBurkha

AlphaStreetIn: Lipstick Under My Burkha: This bold film deserves standing ovation

aHarshPandit: 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' is ONE OF THE FINEST FILMS OF THE YEAR! It's a layered, well-wooven, well-crafted,...

aadi_joshi: Loved 'Lipstick Under my Burkha'. @konkonas et al were brilliant!

1985luckygal: Must Catch Lipstick Under My Burkha for An Amazing Experience #RatnaKonkonaTalksToUC @UCNews_India

_RahulB: Watched Lipstick Under My Burkha. Brilliantly made eye-opener of a movie - art which propels society to accept, introspect & evolve.

_MSalhotra: Lipstick Under My Burkha is a beautiful watch. Well done to the talented writers behind this v. important & empowering film @LipstickMovie

URM1: I think expectations 'ruined' Lipstick under my Burkha for me. I may have liked it better had it not been for all the brouhaha. But nice.

simple_sy: Caught Lipstick Under My Burkha last night. Liked the storytelling, not so much the story.

rajivvijayakar: Why on earth does the realistic brigade shy away from bold progressive ends & keep making pointless,nervous movies?

noneofurbijness: Lipstick under my Burkha was ok

Nikhil11190: Bit disappointed with Lipstick Under My Burkha. Why is women empowerment and lighting ciggarettes such a cool connection? @alankrita601

mainbhiengineer: Lipstick under my Burkha isn't brilliant but it tried, needed better writing but this kind of films are so rare that it must be acknowledged

tezbachii: You really have to be a senseless idiot if you think movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha empower women.

Sumita61: Disappointing....

startafresh4: A sincere yet failed attempt. Lipstick under my burkha disappoints and falls a tad too short to meet exceptions.

siddhya: It does make the audience uncomfortable, as it should. #LipstickUnderMyBurkha @konkonas @LipstickMovie

ritu29bhatia: I really wouldn't recommend Lipstick under my Burkha!

kitAnurag: Lipstick Under My Burkha was bekaar only. I'm disappoint. Avoid kar lein

chaoticmusic10: So the best friends went to watch Lipstick Under my Burkha yesterday, and didn't like it too much.

amitkumarz: Movies like lipstick Under my burkha breaks outdated social ethos and constructive cinema like this must be appreciated.

2 readers - 2 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Fan

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Minu

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A scene with man slapping his wife
  • Language: Abusive words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Sex is not the only, but a predominant theme. Lots of liplocks, a few making-out scenes and a couple scenes where the couple is having sex.
  • Concept: The cage that women stay in – sexual, economic, expression, etc.
  • General Look and Feel: It is a grungy, Mumbai Indian small-town set-up portraying stifled lives. (Error rectified thanks to reader, Minu)

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Lipstick Under My Burkha - Cast, crew, links

Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
120 minutes

Comments (3)

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General Look and Feel: It is a grungy, Mumbai set-up portraying stifled lives.

It is Bhopal, not Mumbai. It is mentioned quite a couple of times in the movie...
1. Bhopal ki Britney
2. The 1984 gas tragedy

Error fixed. Thank you so much, Minu. And apologies for the error.


It is a nice film. It is the need of the hour, to recognize and give the freedom to our mother, sister, wife, daughter. Recognition might be there but often the giving part is missing.

Before deciding to watch the film, please read carefully the parental guidance rating above. Many scenes are extremely uncomfortable to watch in family. They are very sexplicit.

Coming to the censor board controversy. As per my understanding the bone of contention was not the adults content, that is easily managed with an "A" certificate. The issue on hand is the portrayal of Muslims as ultra conservative and patriarchal. Films should not and must not be allowed to malign an entire region, community, religion (remember the generic maligning of Punjabis by a certain Kashyap guy?). The film clearly gives the message against a community, even if that was not intended. There was no balancing act done by showing a liberal Muslim family. And that is incorrect to portray. This portrayal is equivalent to saying every Muslim is a terrorist; which as everyone accepts is wrong. Now we can always debate if it is the job of the Indian Censor Board to discourage films from inciting religious hatred. I believe that there has to be a watchdog, referee, umpire, whatever you want to name to ensure a fair match.

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