‘Festival films’ are rarely a great business proposition. So what made Lipstick Under My Burkha a box-office success?
Rarely has Hindi cinema unabashedly celebrated women for who they truly are. We have often objectified women on screen, using them as mere ornaments to glamourise the canvas. Yes, sometimes we have glorified her too, making her look like this super-human power who can turn the world upside down if she ignites the power within her. But never have we actually shown that essence of the everyday woman that we come across in all walks of our lives, less so applauded such an attempt.
However, director Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, which was initially banned by the Central Board of Film Certificaiton for being ‘lady oriented’ has not only audaciously narrated a story about women’s sexual desires and fantasies but is surprisingly also breaking the myth that a festival film cannot set the cash registers ringing.
The film, which chronicles the tale of four ordinary women, has been showing fantastic growth at the box office ever since its release. Now in its third week, the film has been showing steady growth despite tough competition from films like Mubarakan, Dunkirk and Munna Michael. Both men and women are rooting for this film, and Lipstick Under My Burkha, which was labelled as a film that could harm our culture, has grown by leaps and bounds in no time.
While the critics and movie-goers have unanimously agreed that the film has great content, it still makes one wonder how a festival film can be a box office success.
Are we, as a society finally, getting progressive in our thoughts? Or was it the smart digital marketing strategy deployed by Ekta Kapoor and her team that made a difference? Or was it the censor board controversy that got the audience all geared up to watch a film that almost didn’t make it to cinemas?
Well, the questions are many and we decided to ask Bollywood veterans what about the film appealed to them and what, according to them, has made Lipstick Under My Burkha such a big hit. Over to them…
I am glad for the dirty secrets revealed in this film; I am glad for the preposterously uninhibited actors in this industry; I am glad for housewives with wet dreams in this society; I am glad for lipstick under my ***** basically.
Jayantilal Gada, Producer
Technically, great content has always worked. Before this, Hindi Medium, also a small-budget film, worked. So good content is always going to work. When a film doesn’t do well, we tend to blame each other, whether the director, producer or actors – Oh, they didn’t do the marketing well, the film was not made well etc. But, finally, it’s a team effort and if your film is backed by good content, people are going to like it. This has happened in the last 50 years and it will happen in the next 50 years too. Good content is king and it will sell.
Tanuj Garg, Managing Partner, Ellipsis Entertainment
The kind of content that’s working with audience today is fun and edgy and something that resonates with real life… and Lipstick Under My Burkha has all of that.
Sujoy Gosh, Filmmaker
Unfortunately, I haven’t watched the film yet but my wife has. She loved the way the story was told, so I am guessing Alankrita is a damn good storyteller and that’s what is working for the film.
Sanjay Chauhan, Writer
They have made a powerful, women-centric film, which one seldom gets to watch. The marketing was fantastic and Ekta Kapoor did a fantastic job of marketing the film digitally. She reached out to the right audience; she and her team brilliantly devised a marketing strategy which and leveraged it on social media so well. They used it to its full potential and have set an example for other small-budget films to follow.
The other thing I liked about the film was the narratives – it tells the stories of women from various age groups and without sensationalising them. The stories are very simply told. Unlike Parched, which was a similar kind of story… of three men. But it was done differently and it was showcased to an audience abroad, showing an ‘exotic India’. The fact is, it was not exotic India; it was set in a very small town. This film (Lipstick Under My Burkha) was relatable, you could relate to it and its characters. So it gave something to everyone. Another thing the film highlighted is domestic violence, which is very prevalent in India, and that is Konkona Sensharma’s story in the movie. The other stories too are nicely put together.
So, the fact that girls can be ambitious, they can have their own aspirations, they can have their own sexual desires… It’s all been very nicely done. And it’s mostly women who are going there. Men have not reacted like that. Some of them are even saying, Ratna Pathak Shah… yeh kya hai and yeh sab kya hai…? I think these factors resonate with all kinds of women and offer a glimpse into their personal lives through these four characters. So the connection with women in the audience was stronger and much more personal.