We need more hawa mahals to challenge patriarchy and capitalist exploitation: a review of Lipstick Under My Burkha
The place is interesting, Bhopal. The space is highly suggestive, hawa mahal, which literally translates into air mansion or palace… like castles in the air? Does it mean that none of their struggles were material enough to transform into something they could touch and taste and see?
When I watched Lipstick Under My Burkha, my head was exploding with all the associations that each scene brought to my mind. The entire narrative was weaved around these incredibly interesting women who were navigating through layered forms of exploitation and abuse. And central to their stories is this place in which they all return to protect and tear down simultaneously. Hawa Mahal. Land ‘developers’ come calling to knock down the walls that housed generations of families, victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy (one of those “mismanaged” development schemes) whose only solace was grand old hawa mahal. Who chases them away? Buaji, the matriarch, the ‘old’ lady who supposedly had no other business but to totter after her grandkids and occasionally reign-in the tempers of her wimpy sons.