“A new breeze to Story Telling and Indian Cinema. Winner.”

4 incredible national directors express their version of a ‘Lust Story’ through one thing they all have in common — Cinema.
Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar.
The combination is not new to the world (Bombay Talkies) but it’s probably the first time it is more accessible, without the horror of Censor Board hovering over it. A big big thank you to Netflix!
Lust stories is an anthology of 4 short films tied together in a 2-hour (each story acquiring 30 minutes of screen-time) runtime tied with a common thread-lust, obviously. More than being lust stories, they are Stories of Lust. As depicted very intelligently, lust is an emotion just like love, anguish, hatred, etc. even though, it has never been considered as one. Especially with Indians as an audience, its about time that sex is no longer a taboo and can be spoken about freely. Here, I would like to address that lust and sex are not the same thing, though they belong to the same family but are not the same entity. In its most simple form, lust is an emotion while sex is an action. Why I thought it was important to point out the difference is because these stories are ‘Lust stories’ and not ‘Sex stories’ and need to be seen with the perspective and respect it deserves.

Just the other day, I was working on Trends in the Indian Cinema over the last decade (will be out soon) and ‘Lust Stories’ happened.

And just like that, these directors broke out of their traditional forms.

  1. Anurag Kashyap: Usually considered and liked for his dark cinema, with this piece, he gracefully breaks out of his image and yet is equally impactful as otherwise. A high school teacher, when indulges into a sexual encounter with one of her students’ and realises that she’s tapped into places within herself which she never thought she possessed, while instructing the guy to not indulge in the same. Within 30 minutes, both the characters are established with a strong background and you instantly understand why they react to situations the way they do. Another interesting thing to look out for is, narration imbibed into a moving story, excellently done.
  2. Zoya Akhtar: From rich and beautiful looking people, gorgeous foreign locations and complex characters to a story of a ‘kaamwali bai’ confined in a 1bhk in Mumbai, she has done an amazing job portraying how a simple character can be interesting at the same time. How easy it can be to accept the situation and move on from sexual relationship which was never meant to be anything more than what it was. Breaks through another myth- ‘interesting characters HAVE to be complex’. For someone who aspires to be a film-maker, it is very important to understand that, a character can be as simple as it needs to be and yet will live forever.
  3. Dibakar Banerjee: A believer in art over commercial, adding another excellent piece under his belt. Where a woman, married for 13 years, gets involved in an extra-marital with the husband’s best friend. Don’t think of it as nothing not seen before? Wait until you see the climax. I am sure you must have seen the plot many times in the past, whereas, what is intriguing to see is, how he has managed to portray; the husband-wife relationship, the reason why she entered into an extra-marital, the husband-boyfriend friendship, the state of the kids AND an unexpected climax-everything in ONE location and a 30-minute screen-time. Bravo.
  4. Karan Johar: I have absolutely no doubt about why he is “The Mafia” of the industry. I think, this is the only piece that breaks through while retaining the KaranJoharness in it. It is impeccable how this piece is done. While it is not a family drama, yet being the story of a bahu entrapped in an orthodox family where everyone believes “aurat ki hasrat toh sirf bacche hi hai”. The husband does not give a f*ck about how important it is for a woman to get to the climax, as long as he finishes (which is in exactly 5 seconds, oh! 3 on Sundays). The best part is how KJo’s managed to use the K3G theme during the most important scene, some people might find it cliché, but I personally think it was brilliant, connects back to its origin, the AIB Roast.

Whoever thought of this combination and managed to tie them with a common thread is a pure genius. Few common things in the 4 stories:

  • Each piece is left on an open end. The viewer is free to dive into their imagination pool and discover what comes next.
  • Women centric. All the (lust) emotions and reactions are an extension to their actions. Establishing that lust is a human emotion which includes women. No, it is nothing to do with feminism. Probably the directors thought-if we are attempting to break a taboo then why not take a step ahead and do it with women. One stone, two birds. You see?
  • Brilliant performances. Radhika Apte (Kalindi), Bhumi Pednekar (Sudha), Manisha Koirala (Reena) and Kiara Advani (Megha), respectively. Everyone did justice to their characters, definitely a +1 to all. It will be unfair to not include Vicky Kaushal (Paras) for his performance, although the story revolved around Kiara Advani’s character, he was a delight to watch on screen, it would probably not be the same experience without him in it.
  • Only the important elements acquire the screen space. Nothing extra, unnecessary and over the top stuff. Probably, given the limited screen-time. It is difficult to create a masterpiece while trying to be within so many constraints. Validates “Genius is about knowing when to stop”.

More reasons to watch this?
A compact and impactful screenplay. The stories will stay with you for longer than you expect them to. Will make you wonder about things that you’d probably not think of otherwise. A package of experience, entertainment and drama. Gives the audience a new and progressive perspective. Hopefully, the cinema-goers will now expect a lot more from Indian Cinema.
Absolutely recommend it!

Do let me know how you like the movie? And if you are a moviebuff like me, we can probably share notes 🙂 Go watch!

PS: My favourites — Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar.


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