Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

Most of us saw Lipstick Under My Burkha at last year’s Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). Since then, the film has been doing the fest rounds and winning accolades internationally. On home ground though, it has been the exactly opposite scene. Battle with CBFC went for long, and then the task to find a proper release and distribution partner. Ekta Kapoor came on-board and gave the much needed boost to make it look visible. The film is finally in theatres this friday.

Here’s our recco post on the film, written by Raj Kumari. It was written last year after the MFF screening.

No Male Rescuers

Lipstick Under My Burkha (LUMB) was one of the best films I saw at MAMI 2016 – a bold & honest take on female sexuality. All four protagonists are females (how often that happens in India?) so it can be easily said that it is about female sexuality but I felt at the deepest level it is not. And I am so happy about it being not so.

But still it shows the different perceptions about female sexuality in four different stages of a women’s life through four characters Rehana Saeed (a college girl), Leela (a young lady of so-called marriageable age), Shireen Aslam (a middle-aged married women) and Usha Bua ji (an elderly woman).

The film explores their desires, fantasies, and struggle to own their heartbreaks with such honesty and poignant sensitivity that it’s impossible not to see your own secrets in them.

And even after crossing so many slippery alleys of this topic of female sexuality and repression when it becomes very easy (and even cathartic) to take sides by providing a rescuer for these characters, this film allows itself not to take such a decisive stand and sticks to its POV of just being a witness. The film doesn’t rescue them, it just lets them be. The focus remains tight on the process of suppression only, and hence the core of sexuality comes out blazingly clear.

And what is it?

Sexuality is never about body. And more primarily about male or female body. It can not be. As it involves both male and female energies, whatever be the outer form of the body, male or female or any other gender. Sexuality is about being free, being open, being whole in your presence which generally manifests as being with your own body. And of course, this openness and freedom can come through wearing what you like, smoking, being explicitly exposing or demanding sex openly (some of the tropes repeatedly used/reinforced in our films to show a ‘liberated’ woman). But being sexually liberated is further about understanding that these are just few symbols of freedom against respective symbols of suppression. They ALONE are NOT freedom. Yes, they do serve till some deeper grounds of being open with the self is found. And the film attempts to take us to that depth too.


It defines the core of freedom in the scene where Bua-ji owns her desires, and her ownership of them in front of all who used to respect her. She didn’t feel any shame, grudge or pity. She showed courage to assemble all of her torn, broken, humiliated self in her arms and took shelter in her bedroom calmly and with the same ownership. There were male oppressors but there was no male rescuer in the film, and this itself says how deeply mature the intent of the film is. I loved the film a little extra for this one golden aspect.

And in the last scene, how beautifully it showed that such a place of courage becomes a platform for all such courageous hearts to identify with their struggle. A platform to make mistakes, comparing your struggles with others, and finally seeing the commonality of self ownership as the final rescue.
Do watch it. And let us know what you thought about the film.

Don’t worry if you are not sure what exactly is the meaning of ATAVISTIC. Just read the post and then watch the film. Submarine is a small British film that none of us had heard about. And then came the first trailer (scroll down) of the film. Whatever they say about making the first impression, Submarine managed to do all that. New faces, new visuals, delightful sound (do check out the music too) and a debutant director.  So here’s our recco post, written by writer-filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan.  The film is based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel by the same name.

The physics teacher would never leave when the bell rang. She would always borrow five more minutes. I’d grow impatient, check my digital watch, pack my books, tie my shoe laces and then ride my bicycle like a bat out of hell. 8 kilometers of a ride back home. My mother would scream from the kitchen, asking me to wash my feet. I would hurl the shoes in a corner, put the bag on the sofa and run for the remote.  The Wonder Years on television was the best time of my day. Everyday 4:30. I almost grew up with Kevin Arnold. I even tried to impersonate his attempts to impress Vinnie Copper, his high school sweetheart. Not that any of the impersonation worked but The Wonder Years has been a part of my formative years, of coming of age sitting by a sea of fireflies brimming on a creek.  And I reclaimed that part of childhood watching Submarine.

Every classroom has this guy who would be quiet in the class, make drawings with no meanings in his history book, watch his mates play from the class window, go mute before making up a coherent sentence but would write eloquently about a spaceship dream.  Ayoade’s Submarine explores the mind of such a person, Oliver Tate, by being that person as a narrative.  Set in Swansea, we are lead into Oliver Tate’s adolescence; the first love, the first kiss, taking a blow on his nose when asked by bullies to call his girlfriend a slut, his attempt to save his parent’s marriage and his coming of age.  We never see Oliver Tate as a viewer from outside of his world but we become him and that is the most beautiful thing about Submarine. Rarely does the narrative veer off Oliver but in a deeper subtext, Submarine is about those people, who live in a shell.  If they walk by a street, you’d hear guffaws and dry giggles from around the corner but they’d scuttle away and then talk to themselves when no one’s around, which is most of the time.  Oliver’s girlfriend, Jordana has bouts of eczema, doesn’t talk much, mostly in half sentences. She lights match sticks to calm herself.  They both meet in abandoned warehouses, under rusted iron bridges and playing with fireworks, signifying their unspoken rejection towards accepted social norm and the bourgeois that surrounded the 80s. Oliver’s parents haven’t had sex for seven months. Oliver makes a graph of the light dimmer’s intensity every day, which is how he arrived at this number of 7 months. His mother works in an office where you bring your own cake for your birthday.  Consumed by repressed love for an ex-boyfriend who’s just moved in next door, she turns more distant towards her husband. Oliver’s father is a marine biologist, completely uncool and looks like a black and white image of an old book called “Human Impacts on the ancient marine ecosystems”.  It is a story of social freaks trapped in their submarines of consciousness, cocooned by denial and ceasing to resurface.

As children we would go in to disconnected reality being heroes in our own land of imagination. Oliver has exaggerated visions of what it would be like when he is dead; the candle light tributes, the news channels covering the most important death since Lennon, pretty girls from the class crying and he would suddenly return to life with a cape strung on his back. These subtle moments, abled by an outstanding score by Alex Turner and visually arresting photography by Erik Wilson, make Submarine a film you’d want to go back to those yesteryears. It’s set in the 80s but looks timeless almost like a utopian world. Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate emotes volumes with his restrained poker face, throughout he has a face of a kid who is just get caught stealing father’s money. Yasmin Page playing Jordana Bevan has great screen presence enough to intrigue you with questions about what is eating her from inside, why lighting a match calms her and not to forget the red over coat. Sally Hawkins as a confused wife with a fractured past, emotes histrionically but never goes over the top, although it takes a while to adjust to her jumpy demeanor. Noah Taylor as the quiet father performs with aplomb being a caring father and a carefree husband at the same time.

The film’s greatest strength is its seamless writing, making it undecipherable where drama ends and where humor begins, although the quasi-horror chapter titles seemed out of place.  The ability to marry pathos with humor is an art and that shows best in the scene where Oliver confesses about having a girlfriend. The parents don’t express it but we know from their measured pauses that they are happy that he is not gay. The mother fashions a deplorable thumbs up at him while the father gives him a tape to listen to music for various stages of love. He also mentions that there is a track for break up (Reminded me of Nicholson in As Good As It Gets).It’s hilarious but it is also meant to convey how the parents see their son from their own psychological baggage.

May be because it has been adapted from a book but I was impressed with the character detailing of Oliver. If he is about to have a sex date, he dresses up like a gentleman and plans everything in detail. He reads The Catcher In The Rye, sports a Woody Allen poster on his wall and his idea of a date movie is The Joan Of Arc.   His mother thinks he is a mentally retarded and reads psychology books to deal with him. Oliver spies on his parents and blurts lines from that book just so that the mother feels glad about her assertions.  Never does the narrative binge into self-conscious melodrama. The only sad moment was the dinner at Jordana’s place and when her father screams at him “You’re family”.

As we reach the climax of the film we see Oliver dealing with a dilemma: whether to attend Jordana’s crisis, which would ensure that she stays his girlfriend or go break into that guy’s house where he thinks his mother is cheating on his dad. The dilemma is enacted deftly by Roberts holding the restraint on melancholy and Ayoede depicting the fear with that awe-inspiring bridge dream. I would have loved it even more had the film ended just before the ‘epilogue’. It would make it a different film altogether. I know not many wouldn’t agree to it. To keep this post spoiler free, I am not detailing it here.  However, such a thing can be ignored for what a great film it is. Watch it if you want to take a trip back to those wonder years of adolescence.  Looks like the Brits found their Udaan 🙂

Neeraj Ghaywan | @ghaywan | My Blog

( PS – Click here to read how Joe Dunthorne learned some of the interesting lessons in life. And click here to read Richard Ayoade’s list of AntiHeroes – From A to H)

Who said monologues are boring ? May be not, when its George Clooney! The first look of George Clooney’s new film Up In The Air is out. Check it out!

Also posting a clip from the film and an early review by popular blogging site slashfilm. The film is directed by Jason Reitman ( Juno & Thank You For Smoking).

And click here for review.