Directors : R Balki, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sujoy Ghosh, Amit Ravindernath Sharma
Cast: Kajol, Neena Gupta, Mrunal Thakur, Tillotama Shome, Amruta Subhash, Tamannaah Bhatia, Kumud Mishra, Angad Bedi, Vijay Varma and others
Where: Streaming now on Netflix
Rating: 3.5 stars
Back in 2018, when Lust Stories hit Netflix with four intrinsic tales woven around one of the seven deadly sins and helmed by four leading filmmakers, the audiences then were in the midst of a digital awakening. OTT in the country was in its nascent stage and sex and physical intimacy could unabashedly be used to drive empowering narratives. Lust Stories 1 managed to achieve that with four brilliant stories delivered through the perspective of the female gaze. Does Lust Stories 2 rise up to fulfill similar expectations or does it set newer benchmarks? Let's decipher.
Bringing an eclectic mix of four stories by filmmakers R Balki, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sujoy Ghosh and Amit Ravindernath Sharma , 'Lust Stories 2' makes for a compelling sequel and may I say, it could very well be in a league of it's own. This time around, the stories are much more rooted, in comparison. The only similarity that remains between both anthologies is the female gaze. Through the sequel, lust is not a tool to titillate, but a device smartly used to address pressing concerns.
In Balki's short 'Made For Each Other', we are confronted with the importance of physical intimacy and compatibility that is the key to a lasting marriage. Dadiji (Neena Gupta) chides her young granddaughter Veda (Mrunal Thakur) to explore the depths of her relationship with Arjun (Angad Bedi) and visit 'Mount Fuji', more than once before tying the knot.
Konkona's short 'The Mirror' is an exploration to sexual pleasure that also highlights urban loneliness. Singleton Isheeta (Tillotama Shome) walks in on her maid Seema (Amruta Subhash) engaging in passionate sex in her bedroom and thus, she begins to explore herself vicariously. That it's voyeuristic enough doesn't seem to be a problem for Seema though.
Ghosh's short 'Sex With Ex' unearths buried secrets filled with deep regret. Ex-lovers Vijay (Vijay Varma) and Shanti (Tamannaah Bhatia) reunite briefly under unlikely circumstances to rekindle the flame. Will they reach closure or not?
Lastly, Sharma's short 'Tilchatta' highlights a deeply disturbing reality. Hailed as a just queen of the palace, Devyani (Kajol) wants to escape her abusive marriage to Mehersa Suraj Singh (Kumud Mishra). But, the route to freedom will cost her dearly.
While Balki's film does make for an important conversation, watching Gupta preach to the choir about sex can seemingly come across as a bit of a pushover. Yet, its upto the seasoned actor to make herself seem endearing and she does manage to do so. Konkona's film seeks a sense of empathy and unspoken sisterhood. That she chooses two of the most fantastic actors of our times to effectively communicate the angst of working women across social structures, is chef's kiss. Both Tillotama and Amruta play off each other beautifully like yin and yang. Sharma's take on domestic abuse though has to be the best of the four. Kajol's expressive eyes can unleash wrath and communicate pain, all at once. Unfortunately, Ghosh's short is the weakest link of the lot. While Tamannaah and Vijay's sizzling chemistry is enough a reason to sit through, the rest of the film plays out like an Abbas-Mustan twister.
For that tiny shortcoming aside, 'Lust Stories 2' is a commendable watch, this long weekend. Definitely, a valid reason to spend some time indoors, given the incessant showers.
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