- Critic's Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
“The secret ingredient to sex…is love!”
This quote from Nymphomaniac, somehow does not hold true in Lust Stories. Sex predominates this Netflix drama, while love takes a backseat. The four protagonists from four different stories will help you to rediscover love, Lust and infidelity.
Lust Stories is an anthology film directed by the same directors of Bombay Talkies (Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar). The movie starts with the story of Prof. Kalindi(Radhika Apte), who gets into a sexual relationship and with her student( Akash Thosar). Which could have been a mundane tale of unrequited love, expectations and heartbreak, turns out to be quite an amusing journey of stalking, confused emotions and blame-game in the expert hands of Kashyap. The director gives a kick-start to the anthology. The highlight of Kashyap’s film is the moments, where Radhika talks to the camera and tries to persuade us about her twisted lust story.
Zoya Akhtar’s story opens with an explicit sex scene between Bhumi Pednekar (Sudha, a maid) and Ajit (Neil Bhoopalam, her employer). Bhumi plays a simple quiet girl, who takes care of the household with sincerity and hides her unrequited feelings for her employer. And then the inevitable happens. Neil’s family finds a ‘perfect match’ for him and Bhumi becomes a mere spectator of the occasion and accepts her fate without any grudge.
Dibakar Banerjee frames a story of infidelity, more precisely the confession of infidelity. Manisha Koirala, trapped in a ‘boring marriage’ finds pleasure in her college friend Sudhir (Jaideep Ahlawat). But things take a bizarre turn, when she decides to confess about her affair to her husband(Sanjay Kapoor). Will she sacrifice her love and get back to her ‘safe haven’ or will she finally resolve to live her life with freedom and ‘true love’? Sadly, there won’t be any such lucid solution and most definitely there lies the panache of Dibakar Banerjee.
The fourth and the last story is about a newly-wed girl(Kiara Advani), who never finds sexual satisfaction with her husband(Vicky Kaushal). Instead of making it a serious film on a sex-starved young woman’s longings, Karan Johar rather amusingly helps her to embrace a ‘vibrating’ substitute. He provides a perfect finish to the anthology film. The art of presenting a grave, feminist subject in a light-hearted spirit shows the flare of the filmmaker.
Coming to the performances…a demented Radhika Apte, an intrepid Manisha Koirala, a dejected Bhumi Pednekar and a plucky Kiara Advani, give the stories a sharp edge. Radhika Apte’s portrayal of a rejected, confused loner is quite commendable. She shrieks, cries, blames and she loves. The doe-eyed diva delivers an exquisite performance.
If Radhika was too vocal about her emotions, Bhumi Pednekar was just the opposite. She had only one dialogue in her total screen-time, “Nanga saala!” But Bhumi didn’t need any word to express her subdued love for her employer, her pain of losing what was once hers and above all coming to terms with her new impaired situation.
In the third story Dibakar Banerjee very cleverly uses Manisha Koirala’s subtlety and zing to showcase her dilemma. Also Sanjay Kapoor comes as a pleasant surprise in it. A wasted, somewhat spineless character, compared to his vivacious wife, worked perfectly.
The last narrative is also about the chemistry between a married couple. While the wife(Kiara Advani) is attractive, full of life and adventurous, the husband(Vicky Kaushal) is timid, sexually weak and with a rotten sense of humour. Kiara and Vicky breathe life to the characters. The only thing, that looked a little forced, was Neha Dhupia’s role of a seductive devorcee. It could have been essayed in a more muted way.
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Though the idea of Lust Stories can be somehow compared with Parched or Lipstick under my Burkha, but this anthology film carves its niche with its frisky but profound storytelling.