Four beautifully woven narratives around one of the seven deadly sins
In a world like ours, where relationships and associations are treated as ladders and there is no room for emotion, how does one differentiate between love and lust?
‘Lust Stories’, the newly featured film streaming on Netflix, is an eclectic mix of four short stories by India’s most celebrated directors, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Ashi Dua, the film is an official sequel to 2013’s ‘Bombay Talkies’, which was a tribute to hundred years of Indian cinema, helmed by the same directors.
Spanning crisply across two hours, each story has been masterfully seamed into, without making us feel out of sync with any of the characters or plots. What’s a bonus is that all the four films are told from the perspective of women, giving us enough food for thought.
Anurag’s short introduces us to a married college professor Kalindi (Radhika Apte), falling for her student Tejas (Akash Thosar of ‘Sairat’ fame). A one-night stand causes anxiety and insecurity in the equation.
Akhtar’s story is a poignant take on the class divide that stands in the way of a maid and her employer’s sexual relationship. A little after an early morning quickie, house-help Sudha (Bhumi Pednekar) is seen making breakfast and cleaning the floors before Ajit, (Neil Bhoopalam) her bachelor employer has visiting parents, and a marriage prospect follows.
Banerjee’s short is a mature, layered take on extra-marital affairs between corporate hotheads. Reena (Manisha Koirala) is contemplating divorce from her needy husband Salman (Sanjay Kapoor), while making love to his best friend Sudhir (Jaideep Ahlawat).
Johar’s narrative is a journey of sexual discovery for Megha (Kiara Advani), a teacher stuck in a marriage with a selfish husband Paras (Vicky Kaushal), who gets a life-altering solution, courtesy her librarian colleague Rekha (Neha Dhupia).
Now, each story holds enough potential for the women to make the most of it and boy, what a show they put up. My favorite character has to be Bhumi Pednekar in Zoya’s film, who feels equal to her man, when in bed. She barely has two dialogues in the entire running time of the film, expressing mostly with her big, emotive eyes. Full points to Johar for extracting Kiara’s most matured performance, till date. Neha is spunky. Radhika and Anurag need to make more movies together for sure. And Koirala is vibrant, despite age getting the better of beauty.
What makes ‘Lust Stories’ a refreshing watch is how each director has stepped out of his/her guilty mainstream pleasure to explore cinema that they truly believe in. That digital medium is devoid of censorship, gives them the freedom to tell stories that hit the head and the heart.
There are many lasting memories of the film that will linger much after you’ve exited streaming. Without giving spoilers, let me tell you that you will never look at ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ in the same way that you did.
This long weekend, I’d recommend that you choose to be the couch potato and give the multiplex, a miss.