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Lipstick Under My Burkha

India/2015/87 Minutes/ English & Hindi with English Subtitles


Trapped in their own worlds, four women claim their desires through secret acts of rebellion.

In rural India, a burkha-clad college girl struggles with issues of cultural identity and her aspirations to become a pop singer. A young two-timing beautician seeks to escape the claustrophobia of her small town. An oppressed housewife and mother of three lives the alternate life of an enterprising saleswoman. A 55-year-old widow rediscovers her sexuality through a phone romance. Caught in a conservative society, these women set forth to break the mold, in search of a little freedom.

APRIL 27th, 7:15 pm
Angelika Film Center & Café, Plano, TX

Post-screening SKYPE Q/A with filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava 
Actress Aahana Kumra in Attendance

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Alankrita Shrivastava is a feature film director and screenwriter from Mumbai, India with a penchant for telling women’s stories. She likes to explore the complex interior world of women through her films. 

Alankrita has written and directed two feature films - TURNING 30!!! (2011) and LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA. She has worked on several Indian feature films including Raajneeti as an Associate Director, and Khoya Khoya Chand as an Executive Producer. She has also directed short films, documentaries and music videos.


​I have never worn the burkha. I don’t live in a small town. No one has tried to curb my freedom. I come from a fairly liberal middle-class family and I live in a metropolitan city. Yet there is always something gnawing away within me. Some chains that seem to hold me back. I never feel totally free. Perhaps I am no different from that small town woman who is dreaming of freedom. Perhaps her secret acts of rebellion are mine too. And chains are chains, be they external or internal. This oneness with the characters is what fascinates me. I feel each one of the characters is part me. This film is then perhaps my own search for freedom. The landscape of small town India is rapidly changing. So are the desires and aspirations of women. Through the colourful kaleidoscope of their world, we see these women secretly trying to live a little of their
small lipstick dreams. Dodging prying eyes, battling fear, they go about their days… reading what they shouldn’t be, singing what they shouldn’t be, feeling what they shouldn’t be and wanting what they shouldn’t be wanting.

From a Western perspective, perhaps their desires may seem small. But it is the smallness of their desires that makes the story poignant for me. I hope by making this film I have been able to break some new ground in exploring the complex interior world of a woman in India.

Through the four stories, I have tried to dig deep into what it means to be a woman. What it means to desire, and have the courage to act upon that desire. This story of four ordinary women in small town India, dreaming small lipstick dreams of freedom is then an
important, universal story.


Ratna Pathak Shah 
Konkona Sen Sharma 
Aahana Kumra 
Plabita Borthakur  

Sushant Singh 
Vikrant Massey 
Shashank Arora 
Vaibbhav Tatwawdi 
Jagat Singh Solanki 
Sonal Jha 
Jagat Singh Solanki ​

Alankrita Shrivastava  

​Prakash Jha  

Production Company 
Prakash Jha Productions  

Alankrita Shrivastava  

Alankrita Shrivastava  

Additional Screenplay 
Suhani Kanwar  

Gazal Dhaliwal  

Akshay Singh  

Charu Shree Roy  ​​

Sound Design 
Rahul Badwelkar  

Original Songs 
Zebunissa Bangash  

Song Lyrics 
Anvita Dutta  ​

Background Score 
Mangesh Dhakde 

Production Designer 
Vikram Singh  

Costume Designer 
Rohit Chaturvedi  

​Casting Director 
Shruti Mahajan 
​Parag Mehta ​  ​


​Konkona Sensharma, daughter of filmmaker and actor Aparna Sen, is one of the finest film actors in India. She has won several awards including the National Award for her performance in Mr and Mrs. Iyer (2002) and Omkara (2006). She has acted in several acclaimed and popular Hindi feature films including Talvar (World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2015), Luck By Chance, Wake up Sid and Page 3. She has a huge repertoire of work as an actor in Bengali films as well. She won the Filmfare East Best Actor Award (2014) for Goynar Baksho (2014)

Ratna Pathak Shah, a graduate of the National School of Drama, is a very accomplished and well-known theatre, TV and film actor. Most recently she played the lead protagonist in the highly acclaimed and popular Indian film, Kapoor and Sons since 1921. Her filmography includes Heat and Dust, Mandi, Mirch Masala, Perfect Murder, What If….., Jane tu ya jane na, Golmal 3, Khoobsurat and Nil Battey Sannatta. She is a founder member of Motley, a theatre company in Mumbai, which performs plays in Hindustani and English. 

Aahana Kumra is a young film, television and theatre actor. She has acted in several popular Indian TV series, including Yudh and Agent Raghav. She has done a substantial amount of theatre with leading theatre groups like Motley, Ansh and Akvarious.

Plabita Borthakur, the youngest of the lot, hails from Assam in the North Eastern region of India.  She has been acting in several Indian TV commercials in the last couple of years. She also sings and composes music for a band called Manu & Chow.  Lipstick Under My Burkha is her first feature film as a lead actor. ​

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