Lust Stories movie: Review, cast, director

Johnson ThomasUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 08:33 AM IST
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Film: Lust Stories

Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Neil Bhoopalam, Kiara Advani, Vicky Kaushal, Neha Dhupia, Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Akash Thosar

Directors: Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar

Rating: * * *

A follow-up anthology to Bombay Talkies with the same four directors Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar, this film, a combination of stories that highlight a heightened libido, is a brave, tastefully segued series of shorts.

Lust as a psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, as a craving that drives one to live life against the principles imposed by conditioning, is what it’s all about. “Only the brute is good at the coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses,” Baudelaire, author of Les fleurs du mal, had once remarked, and this holds true in some measure, to all the four stories told here.

Each story talks about sex outside the prism of conformism. The four women central to these stories are all independent willful women who care more about satisfying their inner urges rather than allowing society at large to dictate their lives. In the opener, an Anuraag Kashyap helmed story, a married professor (Radhika Apte) who when drunk to the gills, doesn’t think twice about engaging in intercourse with her student (Akash Thosar), a virgin, and then ends up getting manic, obsessive and literally stalks the toy boy, all over town. Throughout the encounter, she is trying to justify her actions to the camera. No doubt she has gone over the bend, but it’s not exactly an enlightening story. We are not clear about what Kashyap is trying to tell us here. The device doesn’t work either, because we are not clear as to why and to whom she is relaying such intimate details to.

Zoya Akhtar literally slums it with a story about middle-class adventurism. The narration opens with Neil Bhoopalam in a sexual encounter with his housemaid played astutely by Bhumi Pednekar. Thereafter it’s a series of chores and glances through which the housemaid conveys an understated emotion regarding her lover and his impending tryst with marriage. Akhtar’s take is sensitive and impactful. We see and understand the characters for what they are rather than what they should be.

Dibakar Banerjee’s short is a statement on the institution of marriage in the current age. Reena (a slim and svelte Manisha Koirala) is having an intense sexual experience with her husband Salman’s (Sanjay Kapoor) best friend and college-mate (a rather miscast Jaideep Ahlawat) at his newly purchased beach house. The stage is set for a confrontation when Salman decides to come up to the beach house to take Reena home. Dibaker keeps it simple and free of melodrama. The husband and wife come to an agreement on the wings of a compromise formula that allows the three to co-exist in peaceful harmony. But is that as easily done as said? Only time will tell. Manisha Koirala literally stuns you with her repertoire of expressions here.

Karan Johar’s short is the coup de grace, rising above narrow boundaries and reaching for a pinnacle that only he could achieve. It’s truly a witty parodying of his own oeuvre with all the lustre and fabrication of a mainstream product. Kiara Advani is the young soon-to-be-married teacher who looks to her divorcee colleague (Neha Dhupia) for guidance. And it’s not all relegated to handling the principals lascivious verbal volleys. This one though has a happy ending replete with Lata Mangeshkar’s iconic voice underlining the significance of hard-earned orgasmic ecstasy.

This anthology is not about happily ever after. It’s about life…and lust of course!

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