Alankrita Shrivastava, who made Lipstick Under My Burkha, started her career in film working with Prakash Jha Productions. Since 2003, she has worked on films such as Gangaajal, Apaharan and Raajneeti. Her debut film as a writer-director, Turning 30!!! (2011) was about a woman dealing with a mid-life crisis. She has also directed Golden Tales… From the Land of Bihar (2012), a documentary on the cultural heritage of Bihar. Alankrita strives to make women-centric films.
Excerpts from a quick chat:
Her cinematic journey
My interest in making films started in school. I went to Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun and we had an activity called Audio Visual Production. The senior girls would make an AV and there used to be a huge screening at the annual Founders’ event. I was in a junior class but I remember seeing that work of cinema. The fact that it was created by girls gave me a feeling that I really wanted to make films.
Growing up as a child, I used to like mainstream popular cinema. I got over that phase in college. While doing my graduation in Journalism from Lady Shri Ram College, I was exposed to more interesting films and alternative films.
While I was doing my Masters in Mass Communication, I came to work on Gangaajal. I was a trainee on that film. And then one thing just led to another.
The story behind Lipstick Under My Burkha
I’ve always felt constrained from inside. I’ve always wanted to explore this feeling of not being free from within. And I did not want to do it in a world which is like the world we inhabit – also the world of Turning 30!!!. I wanted to express it through characters who function in a different milieu.
I feel quite close to this story because even though I don’t live in those environments, I feel like they’re all me.
Why the film holds universal appeal
I think people should experience the journey of these four characters through the eyes of the characters. The greatest achievement for me would be if people did that rather than looking at the characters from the outside.
What bothers me all the time is that a lot of films I watch – sometimes even films about women – have such a male gaze. It’s not sensitive to women. My attempt was to write and make this from a very clearly female gaze.
My two favourite Indian films are Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Monsoon Wedding. Internationally, I really like Nicole Holofcener. She talks about the ordinary craziness in women. She’s one of my favourites.
Freshman tip for aspiring filmmakers
Many people are talented. But more than that, you need perseverance, emotional strength and determination to be a filmmaker. All great writing comes from re-writing. Sometimes things take too long to come together. It’s about having that conviction to just keep going.
Lipstick Under My Burkha screens at MAMI on:
DAY 7, October 7, 1.45 pm at PVR ECX