Anthalogical cinema has always fascinated me: there is complete satisfaction in less than the duration of a regular film. Bombay Talkies is an examplary benchmark. Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Bannerjee and Anurag Kashyap created yummy stories whuch were heartfelt, shaking and fresh. Subtlety was the strong game of these films and there was fully fledged narrative depiction with little plot devices. It was a perfect celebration of hundred years of Bollywood.
This one has a larger lens and a more developed screening- you will not be able to get it on your cinema halls, instead, it's on Netflix. And I admire this- if it were to be released in the cinemas, it would not have acquired popularity, money and added to it, the stigma of many cuts would have grabbed you from going for it.
This is what we call independent, revolutionary cinema: this one marks Hindi cinema getting mature, subversive and (notoriously) sexy in tone of modernity. So we have four filmmakers who construct four short films: Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Bannerjee and Karan Johar in order. These films, just like Bombay Talkies, is composed entirely into its anthology.
The first segment, that of Anurag Kashyap, is the story of Kalindi (Radhika Apte) and her affair with her student Aakash (Akash Thosar of Sairat). This film sets the bar for emotional sex and casual sex, and it's a thought-provoking, dog-biting comedy. But it unplugs the layers of itself with its narration- here Kalindi narrates her mindset, how she's confused with the meaning of a consensual relationship, why she doesn't regret, and so on. It's a mature and progressive tale which is shown to the screen woth charming shades.
And then, the beautiful Zoya Akhtar story unveils. This one is Sudha's story, and the best short story. Sudha (Bhumi Pednekar) works as a maid in the house of the man she has sexual affair with, Ajit (played by Neil Bhoopalam). This is her story- the affair which holds a little significant since, well, her status. So she holds no regret about being in this relationship- it somehow had to come apart. This moving, shaking story is always worth your time. It lifts off the screen, and is beyond a big makeup for Zoya's previous outing Sheila ki Jawaani from Bombay Talkies and the feature film Dil Dhadakne Do.
Dibakar Bannerjee's segment is derailing. It's beginning is great, by the sunshine into the beach, its a delight to see Manisha Koirala and Jaideep Ahlawat sharing an intrinsic relatability in their conversation, and the performance of Sanjay Kapoor as the frustrated husband is quite mature performance. But till the end, how it all comes apart gets your natural concern and the way the portrayal of the female character has been done is ridiculous.
Karan Johar's segment is the most dazzling and emotional film in the list despite being a bold sex comedy which acknowledges its women with the lens of men- and believe me, he has done it great- but the weak writing of the film sorely affects your experience: and it also makes the film terrible. The overdramatic lines have been abnormally pushed into the performances, forming an unnecessary melodramatic plugging which never soars: there are lines like Auraton ki hasratein hoti hain and Yah bedroom me hota to pati aur patni ke beech ki baatein hotin. Keh denge ki aapki beti ko mirgi ke daure padte hain They are so overtly bad that you forget these lines actually mean to talk about the fantasies and sexual desires of a woman and how these are suppressed by the pressure of childbirth. Kiara Advani is tender as Megha, while Vicky Kaushal soaks himself into the character of Paras, who doesn't last too long in bed, but he's actually worth being the next ladies' man Bollywood seeks. But the real charm here is Neha Dhupia- she gets intimate with her own character, and she is one of the boldest and most well-performed supporting characters of woman in Hindi cinema, easily.
There are two great movies and two average movies in this anthology. But it all comes together with charming presentation, which is not as charming as Bombay Talkies, but still, it works. On the whole, the film doesn't become a strong sequel altogether, but at less than the regular Bollywood duration, there's much to see. I am going with three stars.
There comes a film every once in a while that tries too hard to convey a message but falls flat on its own face mostly due to a lack of substantial content and heavy doses of embellishments. Netflix's Lust Stories is one such anthology film with four 30-minute stories that aspire to break taboos associated with women's sexuality but are, in fact, purveyors of nonsense. Except for Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap hitting one or two right chords with their stories about vaginal pleasure and emotional attachment respectively, Lust Stories gasps for freshness and logic. While Johar's young housewife (Kiara Advani) is dissatisfied with her husband's performance on bed and so looks for external stimuli in a righteous way, Kashyap's teacher (Radhika Apte) is obsessed with a youngster who she had a poontang with despite telling him herself to not take it to the heart. Zoya Akhtar comes in third with her excellently acted trash about a housemaid (Bhumi Pednekar) taken for granted by her bachelor employer after they engage in some nasty sex. There's not even a sprinkle of inference you can gather from the story other than the subtle performance by the cast which also include Neil Bhoopalam. Dibakar Banerjee certainly did not get the memo as his story looks like a nonsensical excerpt from an awful book. Manisha Koirala takes cues from Banerjee to take marital decisions for her character while enjoying the mess she has made the lives of two men and vice versa. (I mean it, don't tell me otherwise.) The music and overall cast performance is good and high-energy, thanks to Netflix, but the content seems like it was concocted just to frame it with the word 'feminism' and then sent for human consumption. I get it when Johar tries to highlight the importance of women's sexuality but it does not have to be forced, just like the little humor that Lust Stories overall boasts of. Don't waste your time unless you want to have a look at how the actors look when they act 'it'. TN.