Lust Stories 2 review: A half-baked anthology that fails to erupt
What stands out in the new anthology ‘Lust Stories 2’ is that the four short films manage to normalise the grand coital act, take on subjects such as female desire and the need for a woman to achieve orgasm during sex, head-on. No beating about the bush here anymore and getting Kiara Advani to make do with a sex toy and make a mockery of it like they did in the 2018 first series of ‘Lust Stories’.
One film cheekily uses a god-fearing, mantra chanting grandmother (Neena Gupta) to send a message that pre-marital sex is necessary for marital compatability and it’s important for a woman like “Mount Fuji to erupt” during sex, and another boldly tackles a single woman getting her sexual pleasures through voyeurism.
This is how we are. This is in essence what the four directors seem to be saying with regards to the sexual act itself. There’s also a surfeit of it the viewer gets to see what with one short directed by Konkana Sen Sharma showing a couple copulating in different Kamasutra positions. There’s also an overt sex scene in the Sujoy Ghosh’s short between Tammanah Bhatia and Vijay Varma, which will probably have her fans again tearing into her.
Now, getting to the short films themselves – the first one is problematic. Balki’s short turns out to be more like an advert driving home the message –‘the importance of pre-marital sex for a good marriage’ and shows no character arcs or a proper resolution at the end to a young couple (a light-headed Mrunal Thakur and a serious looking Angad Bedi) testing their sexual compatibility in hotel rooms before their marriage.
If Balki’s short leaves you hanging, Konkana’s film on voyeurism delves into a different shade of lust.
A talented Tillotama Shome (‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Qissa’, ‘Sir,’ ‘Is Love Enough’) plays this panicky voyeur, a single working woman who always seems on the edge, as she spies on her maid having sex with a man in her bedroom. She stumbles upon them when she returns from work early one day. At first, Tillotama is angry but soon hides behind a pot to derive pleasure from watching the couple.
The class divide between the maid (played by the superb actor Amrutha Subhash) and her employer (Tillotama) is brought out well. The music and cinematography at the hands of an adept Konkana are great and the sex scenes are shot tastefully. It is also a tightly edited film. But, Konkana wraps it up with a forced ending leaving you dissatisfied.
The third short by Sujoy Ghosh is the most light-hearted. It has to do with a sleazy, eye-to-the-main-chance kind of guy (Vijay Varma), who is on a rendezvous to meet his sexy girlfriend. The problem is he is married and his rich father-in-law is calling for a board meeting. While watching his girlfriend disrobe on his phone as he is driving his car, he meets with an accident. He goes off to a nearby village to get help and comes across his old girlfriend/an earlier wife Tammanah Bhatia.
Their sexual attraction gets rekindled but there are old ghosts that need to be laid to rest. Both the fetching Tammanah and Verma have a good chemistry and they keep the pace of the short going with great accompanying music. The old hummable song from Vinod Khanna’s ‘Jurm’, ‘Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye’ works well here. If you are wondering where the film is headed, there’s a sharp turn at the end of the road.
The last short helmed by Amit Sharma (‘Badhaai Ho’, ‘Tevar’, ‘Maidaan’), with Kajol and Kumud Mishra also has a surprise twist at the end. But this short stutters along before it takes you to that climax. The story is of a lecherous alcholic landlord (Kumud Mishra) living in a big crumbling haveli with his wife Kajol, who he abuses physically. He has no money and refuses to sell his haveli to a hotel and spends his time sexually harassing the maid. They have a son who foolishly dreams with his mother of going away from all this drudgery and pain to study in England.
This short film is shot beautifully, the scenes are atmospheric and along with the music carry forward the doom, the hopelessness and emptiness the characters experience. Kajol tries hard to shed her image from popular cinema and somewhat succeeds but there’s not enough material for her to sink her teeth into really.
The characters in the first season of ‘Lust Stories’ seemed far better etched out and the stories more complete.
‘Lust Stories 2’ is streaming on Netflix from June 29.