Dr Khusi Pattanayak

The second anthology confirmed what I had suspected all along, I am not a fan of Lust Stories series. The first Lust Stories (2018) was innovative in its unorthodox approach towards carnal cravings especially in mainstream media, but nothing beyond that.

Five years later when Lust Stories 2 (Hindi, 2023) arrives with new stories and fresher perspective, that novelty has also worn off and what we have is a lacklustre collection of lusty tales.

I always look forward to anthology movies. It is like a perfect buffet; you can have what you want- something for everyone. They are a medley of outlook and style; always springing in surprises with their auteur grandeur.  But that is unfortunately not true for Lust Stories 2.

The first story by R. Balki is a transgenerational narrative about the importance of sex in a happy marriage. Balki’s story seems to be influenced from two sources: Jaya Bachchan’s interview where she had mentioned how physical compatibility plays a significant role in a successful long-term relationship. And Surekha Sikri’s dadi from Badhaai Ho (2018) where she rebelliously announces sex is integral part of being in love and kids cannot be born without sex.

Neena Gupta’s ease as an actor makes her equation with Mrunal Thakur endearing, but nothing memorable; Angad Bedi was fine but deserved more screentime. Despite the potentiality, the story lacks impact or if I may take the liberty to say – Mount Fuji did not erupt!

The second story helmed by Konkona Sen Sharma is the better of the lot. A feminist take on voyeurism (cinema is voyeurism!), female bonding, social stigma, and class prejudice, this was multilayered and subtle. Credit goes to the cinematographer for framing the nuances with such perfection. The symbolism of the mirror is clever – a mirror reflects most of the light that reaches its surface – and that is exactly how both Amruta and Tillotama’s character function. Both mirror each other. Amruta Subhash and Tillotama Shome are a sheer delight to watch. But this one felt like a revised extended version of Zoya Akhtar’s episode from Lust Stories.

The third is Sujoy Ghosh’s offering. Since it was Ghosh’s script, I was expecting some twist in the tale like a thriller or suspense or mystery. True to Ghosh’s style there is one, but this has Darna Mana Hai (2003) / Darna Zaroori Hai (2006) written all over it. Tamannaah Bhatia and Vijay Varma put in their best efforts to generate enough steam and heat but overall, it felt a little forced. The weakest script of the lot, this one deserved to be part of a different anthology.

The final story belonged to Amit Ravindernath Sharma (Badhaai Ho). An otherwise been-there-seen-that narrative about how a deprived women decides to turn the wheel of fortune, is saved by the climax. The kahani mein twist was unexpected and turns the world topsy-turvy; very welcoming. Kumud Mishra is brilliant as ever. But cannot fathom why Kajol chose to be in this role. Infact she has been reprising in such roles time and again – the unfortunate women who tries to fight the tide; maybe her way of establishing herself as an actor of substance.

I am not a prude. I love movies that explores sexuality and discusses tabooed concepts like female fantasy. But Lust Stories is neither. If you are in a mood for nothing and willing to not over indulge critically (unlike me) then watch Lust Stories 2 over the weekend on Netflix.

(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal)