When short film scene is teeming with mushy romances and silly comedies, Khais Millen, a young film maker, barges into a forbidden territory and brings Lipstick to the Malayali audience. Openly questioning the section 377 of the Indian penal code, (which criminalises any unnatural sexual activities including homosexuality), Lipstick is a bold take on the lives of homosexual minority.
Khais, who worked as an assistant to many mainstream directors, is gallantly taking a bold subject not attempted by many Indian filmmakers in his debut short film outing.
In stunning frames deftly lapped up by Rajesh Rethnas, Khais depicts the story of Shyam, a young man who lost his identity while he was just eight years old. By falling prey to the sexual advances of an older neighbour, Krishnakumar, while he was too young to comprehend sexuality, Shyam is struggling to find his footing. Shyam enjoys Krishna’s attentions and succumbs to his actions. When Krishna calls him ‘Sundari’ (beautiful girl) he believes it. He remains faithful to Krishna, who has sneaked away his innocence from him. While Krishna, a quintessential philanderer, follows the use and throw philosophy in his relationships, Shyam is not able to get out of the enchanting web Krishna has woven for him. Shyam was just another tissue paper for him which he will throw away eventually. From his wife to his transgender friend, Krishna is easily jumping from one flower to another. In the end, Shyam realises the folly of it all and decides to put an end to Krishna’s actions. This time he uses the make-up Krishna has bought for him to become a man. He takes a pinch of Kajal and dabs it on his upper lip. He kills Krishna in his sleep and throws himself before a train.
When asked why he has chosen such a controversial subject for his very first outing, Khais says, “I wanted to talk about the rights of homosexuals in a movie. Homosexuality is a crime in India as per section 377. I wanted to make a movie for that minority who struggles to find an identity in this world. I have seen some of my friends struggling to deal with their sexual preference.”
Except a few films such as fire, there are not many filmmakers who showcased lovemaking sequences between the same sex in their films. But Khais breaks all such barriers and do not hesitate to show an explicit sexual sequence between the main characters. The vulnerability of the principal character becomes palpable in Jinu Kuttikkad’s heart wrenching performance. Prem Shankar as the insensitive Krishnakumar is also convincing.
This experimental short film dabbles with the insensitive nature of love in today’s world while adeptly capturing the identity struggles of a young man.
The film which has been screened at many festivals such as ‘Festellen South Indian Short Film Festival’ has won the awards for best short film, best director and best actor in the festival. ‘Lipstick’ was the only Malayalam short film which was selected to screen at the ‘Noida International Film Festival’ where it won the jury award for best film and special jury award for best actor.