Even though it showed rather tame representations of reality.

Reality can be a whole lot more disgusting. I know this. Yet, I found it hard to get through the film. Generally, I am not a fan of stories that end with no resolution. Open-ended is most irritating. On top of that, this film has FOUR parallel stories. All unresolved. All fucking painful to watch. Yes, I only got around to watching the film now, five months after its release.

A lot of the movie was relatable. Not in terms of the actual incidents and events but in terms of the feelings. The feelings were mutual in most cases. Gut-wrenching to watch. Much easier to look past and ignore in real life ( yes, I get the irony ). In my life as a woman and as an observer of the lives of other women. And the actors were so fucking great. They didn’t feel like larger than life Bollywood celebrities. They felt like people I might recognize in my neighbors, fellow supermarket shoppers, clients, college friends, clients, colleagues. Someone I might see in a car next to mine at a traffic light.

The characters did not necessarily articulate everything they were feeling. This was probably what made the film so hard to watch for me. I could tell it was all very uncomfortable but wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel. Usually, I allow my feelings to be dictated by the general ambient feeling around me. The feelings of other people inform my feelings. Not necessarily in the same general direction. But at the very least, I can take a stand.

Lipstick Under My Burkha did no such thing. It presented me with scenarios and I could make of them whatever I wanted. It made me uncomfortable for the characters as if they were real people. I needed to protect them. From the other characters who were being assholes to them. I also needed to protect them from other people like me who were watching the film.

I watched the film alone, on my laptop, completely uncensored thanks to Amazon Prime Video. ( Hooray for not being coerced to prove my patriotism in a movie theater ). The viewing was an intimate experience. I probably would have distanced myself from the narrative had I watched it in a theater surrounded by other viewers in-person. Apart from spending time wondering what the censor board had cut out and why advertisements on the Indian theater screens are so goddamn shitty, The only thing I knew about the film was that it had originally been banned and / or censored in a major way. Then it won some awards internationally and was finally given a minor censor edit and released in theaters in India.

Turning up my nose at what I assumed was now an over-hyped film, I had no plans of watching it. When I heard about the uncensored release on Prime Video via my Twitter feed, I was curious and ended up watching it when I needed a change from Scottish detectives on Netflix.

I wish female sexuality and needs weren’t such a taboo subject! I’d like to believe that I’m fairly open-minded about my own sexual needs and those of others. If someone wants to fuck and they find a consenting partner, I don’t really care about anything except the informed “consent” part. But I live and work amongst people, who, upon seeing and hearing me admire the appearance of a man, remark, “But aren’t you married Naina?!” I am married, not blind.

It’s a shame that a film like Lipstick Under My Burkha is being made and released in India in 2017. It should have made the rounds a hundred years ago. What life is this?! Women, who represent 50% of this planet’s human population, cannot fuck?! We, the Instagram Generation, complain about vulgar comments on our bra-clad selfies. It sounds like a position of privilege but is it?

My Mom heard that I’d watched the film. She wants to know, “Kaisi hai picture?” ( How is the film? )

I don’t know what to tell her. I don’t want her to watch it. She might not like what she sees and I’m not sure I want to know why. But if she does watch it, I hope she gets to do it alone. Tainting it with “company” would probably not allow her to let out the entire disgust from her system.

It’s a great film. Watch it.

 

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