Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha is a completely new territory for Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur. Both the actors are new to Bollywood even though Aahana has worked in Amitabh Bachchan starrer TV series Yudh and several other projects. So the attention the film is getting is pretty exciting for the actresses.
While Aahana plays a beautician full of aspirations and unapologetic for her desire for sex, Plabita plays a college fresher who wants to up her ‘cool’ game. When we caught up with them at a city hotel earlier this week, they had lots to share over a cup of coffee. Here are some excerpts:
You had a screening for friends and families, how did they react to the film?
Aahana: A lot of my relatives and friends with whom I have grown up have watched the film. These are people from age group of 20 to 60 years, both men and women from all walks of life. They are not filmy at all. The women were super excited because they related to the film and the men got a little uncomfortable. The women are thinking progressively about the film. The film stayed with them for a long time.
Plabita: I took a few friends and they had a positive response. I took them because I wanted to know if the film has lived up to its expectations since there is a hype created around it. Everyone pointed that the film is real and no one was faking it. Even the men could connect with each character.
Did they have any apprehensions due to the bold scenes in the script?
Aahana: My father watched the film with me and he looked awkward, which is normal. Seeing his daughter in brutal scenes, he didn’t know how to react. I think my mother was still alright. I was taken aback after reading the script and thought that the director is very brave. Honestly, when I read the script, I wondered how Alankrita will shoot the scenes, and whether the film will be allowed a released. I thought all my scenes would be chopped out because we know how the Censor Board is — they are not open-minded and progressive. You get to watch these kind of films in world cinema – completely unapologetic about sex. But in our country, we do not show the desire of sex in the right way. It is always shown from a man’s perspective. No one talks about the woman or how she feels about sex. After I auditioned with Vikrant Massey, things fell into place and I realised that one must look beyond the sex scenes.
Plabita: The script was written beautifully so there were less chances of anything going wrong with it. Thankfully, my character didn’t have many sex scenes. It’s Ratna ji and Aahana who have most of the bold scenes. If one of those characters would have been offered to me, I might have thought about it a little more before signing. I think they are very brave actors.
How close are you to your character in the film?
Plabita: My character is actually different from me. I am an extrovert and my character is just the opposite. I come from a liberal family while she has to deal with a lot of restrictions. I had never thought I could relate to Rehana, but when I read the script and did the workshops, I realised that I have been through the same experiences. While shooting, I realised that I am not as liberal as I thought I was. We all want be popular in school and deal with peer pressure. Rehana has her own little battle going on in her mind. The conditioning by our society doesn’t allow us to do certain things and holds us back just because we are girls.
Aahana: I am like my character. I relate to her in many ways — like someone who unapologetically enjoys sex, has big dreams, and achieves goals in life. She is probably like so many other girls, not just from India but from across the world. Recently I met a Siberian girl on the flight. We realised how similar we are. She wants to be an artist while her parents want her to be a doctor. The conditioning is the same everywhere. I didn’t accept the person I was and shied away from my feelings, but now realise that I have to accept my own self.
How has the film changed you as a person?
Plabita: I have grown as a person and an actor. Because I am a newcomer, I did a lot of reading to help me get into the skin of the character. I have learnt so much watching the team work together. Everyday we are having a new discussion which is great.
Aahana: Plabita has rightly said that we have grown with the film. Sometimes in your career, you do a lot of work and understand the whole point of it. When you attach yourself to a certain kind of cinema, you can talk about and it changes you.