Movie Review: Lust Stories

Lust stories is an anthology movie, produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Ashi Dua, directed by four directors namely Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar, and distributed by Netflix. A few years back, there was a disappointing line up of anthology movies. A short film is much more desirable than a feature film for a director as he can tell a story more effectively without having to fill up the running time with irrelevant details. When you stitch together a few short stories, you have a running time of a regular feature film, and it might end up as an attractive offer for the cinema-going audience. But the basic idea falls flat when the audience is not able to find the connection between the different stories. 

If you examine Lust stories, all of the directors, except for Karan Johar, have proved their mettle in serious storytelling. I am not telling Karan Johar is not a good director but his selection of stories and treatment of emotions clouds my judgment. As a result, I am unable to go past these follies to evaluate how good a director he is. The short story format of anthology gives these directors a unique opportunity for intense storytelling. The directors use lust as the basis to tell four different stories from a woman's point of view. Although there is a theme of men being the enemy, it is depicted subtly. What will be more remarkable to a person who analyzes the movie is that this theme is evident in a segment directed by a man. 

There are four different stories. Kalindi played superbly by Radhika Apte has sex with her student. Then her life spirals out of control due to her insecurities. What she fears will happen to her student actually happens to her. Anurag Kashyap uses this segment to show the chaos created by a random act by showing us what happens in Kalindi's world and Kalindi's mind. The turmoil in her mind is revealed to us through a captivating monologue. Zoya Akhtar shows the plight of a maid Sudha essayed by talented Bhumi Pednekar who is mostly ignored by the man whom she serves. Sudha is in a relationship with her master, but we found out her master's marriage is fixed by his parents in front of her. The futility of the relationship and the loneliness of Sudha is captured in perfect frames. In this segment, the director is dominant and overpowers the actors.

The third segment is directed by Dibakar Banerjee. Reena played by Manisha Koirala is having an affair with Sudhir who is the best friend of her husband, Salman. On a fateful night, all of three of them meet in Sudhir's beach house. The storyteller emerges in this segment to tell us the callousness of men towards women and also how men are ready to sacrifice women for peace and success. The final story is directed by Karan Johar and tells the story of newlyweds Paras, and Megha played respectively by Vicky Kaushal and Kiara Advani. Paras is inexperienced, and hence Megha is never satisfied. When Megha take matters into her hand after trying to send the message subtly, all hell breaks loose. The underlying issue is that women's needs are not met by men. Karan uses a lot of humor to convey a serious matter. Since he has to tell in a limited time, the message is not diluted. 

With a provocative title featuring lust, it grabs your attention. But the four segments features the aftermath of passion. Shown from the women's point of view, it offers a different perspective. While the movie is highly recommended, I advise caution while watching. This movie is distributed by Netflix, and so you can only watch it at home and not in cinemas.  As there are explicit scenes, it is better to cautious.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****


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