Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Entertainment Review: Lust Stories Season 2

Unbridled lust is the cause of so much trouble in the world, that a series of short films about the subject also need to capture the joy and playfulness of sex than just the dark side. Season 1 of Lust Stories, was light as compared to Season 2, with the humour of the Karan Johar segment remaining in the memory. Quite a feat, considering it came out in 2018.

Lust Stories Season 2 has more anger and desperation than love. In the first story, Made For Each Other, directed by R.Balki, Veda’s (Mrunal Thakur) grandmother (Neena Gupta), insists that a marriage cannot work if the sex is not good, and advises her to “test drive” her boyfriend (Angad Bedi). Both sets of parents are shocked, because it seems like a perfect match in every way. Mount Fuji must erupt for both, says the old lady using a corny euphemism for orgasm, as Veda giggles and blushes charmingly. It turns out, after several trysts in expensive hotel rooms, that there is no problem in this department. Balki does not dare to go into the consequences of the sex not working out for the otherwise compatible couple. In an conservative society like ours, how many frogs would a woman be expected to kiss, without being branded a slut? And a guy could go on a testing spree without being judged. Just to make the granny sound cute, Balki throws up an idea that does not land.

Konkona Sensharma’s The Mirror has a busy career woman Isheeta (Tillotama Shome) voyeuristically watch her maid Seema (Amruta Subash) use her home and bed to have noisy, sweaty sex with her husband (Shrikant Yadav), because their squalid, overcrowded hut offers no privacy. In that short running time, Sensharma, with help of two brilliant actresses, explores urban loneliness, class, aging and of course the symbiotic employer-employee relationship, in the best segment of the anthology, written by her and Pooja Tolani.

Sujoy Ghosh’s Sex With The Ex is strange and unerotic—despite Tamanaah Bhatia’s low-cut blouses and exposed back—encounter between an opportunistic CEO of a company (Vijay Varma), and his ex-wife. The ending is easily predictable, which makes the story, set in a surreal backdrop, even more far-fetched.

Finally, the most unpleasant film of the anthology, Tilchatta by Amit Ravindranath Sharm, in which a miscast Kajol puts up with domestic abuse by her drunken husband, minor royalty with delusions (Kumud Mishra), and ignores his serial raping of the domestic help, so that her son can have a better future. The man’s lust may be portrayed in the story with a disapproving lens, but it does not reduce the cringe factor of this segment.

Some of the stories in the various Modern Love anthologies look at sex in a more palatable manner. If there is a Season 3 of Lust Stories, how about foregrounding desire and pleasure?

Lust Stories Season 2 

Directed by R Balki, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sujoy Ghosh and Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Cast: Kajol, Neena Gupta, Mrunal Thakur, Tamannaah Bhatia, Vijay Varma and others

On Netflix 

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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