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The latest offering by Netflix, ‘Lust Stories’ is a bold and unconventional take on women, sex and morality. It is a must watch.
(This may contain some spoilers)
What is exploration? How does it work? What happens when we truly leave ourselves free to explore? Does it come with regrets? If yes, how do we deal with it?
These questions are explored by the character of Kalindi, in the first Lust Story by Anurag Kashyap. Kalindi is a married woman who lives away from her husband. It’s a choice not made by her alone but a mutual choice, propagated by her husband, Mihir too. Mihir is an unseen character in the story. He is shown as a dedicated husband who loves his wife selflessly. He is shown in contrast to the protective and dominating husbands who reek of patriarchy. While Mihir, understands the outcomes of not letting his wife explore her life, he decides to set her free, knowing or not knowing the consequences.
Kalindi on the other hand is not only a character but a personified face of exploration. An exploration that comes with an added flavor of adventure, mistakes, guilt, regrets and fun. Kalindi is completely flawed but she doesn’t mind it. She enjoys it. It is so evident that with each exploration, she feels better and gets closer to herself. She is on a journey of trying to know herself better. Her attempt of finding ‘Guilt’ adventurous is a milestone for freedom that women are striving to attain, since ages. The character of Kalindi is more like a lesson for people to fearlessly learn about exploration. It is risky but a risk worth taking. One might make mistakes, fall down but the one who loves to explore, loves that fall a bit more. Kalindi also represents the confusion and regrets that comes with exploration.
Another character, Tejas, is the medium that leads to the exploration. He embodies those silent circumstances that allow people to make mistakes, fall back and make those mistakes again, without judgement. He is a representation of a male who is neither judgemental nor creepy but a silent spectator. The last scene is hard core, when Kalindi informs Tejas that she is married. It is like digging back to the reality and holding it strong, while feeling good about exploring herself. It is like choosing not to feel judged about herself and still keep doing what makes her know better about herself.
The second story by Zoya Akhtar, is plainly about ‘Lust’ in its hidden emotions. The mute character of maid is representative of mute emotions and desires that become a taboo if talked about. There is no way out for settling those emotions and it lies hidden but explored in its naked form. The complexity of sexual desires has been juxtaposed with the relations that we create to fool ourselves to get away from the hypocrite society. Calling the guy maid’s bhaiya is an attempt to restrict those womanly sexual desires by putting it in a guilty bond. This story is to talk less but show more.
The trio of characters – Sudhir, Salman and Reena in the third film, by Dipankar Banerjee, make it an amalgamation of cowardice, tolerance and bravery, all in one frame. Reena is in an extramarital affair with his husband’s friend since last three years. She feels no shame in being open about it and want to confess it.
This character isn’t guilty about it except when Sudhir- as a mirror of society- tries to reflect upon her acts. Sudhir as a representative of society, is a coward to accept his clandestine affair with Reena, while Reena bravely accepts this in front of Salman and handles it maturely. She is a symbol of a woman who wants to think of herself as a woman first, neither as a wife nor a mother. That is when Sudhir tries bringing guilt in Reena by referring to her children and she rejects it explicitly. This character is more like a calling to the women of our society who keep themselves burdened with some relationship tags all their lives. Reena’s smile in the end of the film, is a reminder that it’s time for women to prioritize themselves and believing that everything can fall in place even when they think of themselves first.
The last story is by Karan Johar and is about – WOMEN NEEDING SEX. WOMEN DESERVING SEX. WOMEN’S SEXUAL SATISFACTION. The two characters portray the need for sex in two different life situations. One is a divorcee which makes her vulnerable in the eyes of a principal who keeps staring and inviting her. A scene which depicts her derive sexual satisfaction using a vibrator is a breakthrough, specifically for a country where even thinking of women demanding sex makes her outright slut. This scene is an awakening for women who try to shut their desires in the presence of their unfulfilled sexual needs.
The second one is a married woman who keeps counting for her husband’s ejaculation while he doesn’t seem to care for his wife’s needs at all. This film is set on the backdrop of everyday marital life. Women are expected to fulfill their husband’s sexual desires and to procreate.The film also reflects on the taboo, showed by her mother in law who see it as a crime, not understanding it from a woman’s perspective. This is what women are supposed to grow up as, restricted, non demanding and submissive. The audience would very relate to how married women felt and it might be an alarm for husbands to rethink their mutual sexual lives. The last line of the film catches the show when she says, ‘It was not a mistake’ at all. The determination and acknowledgement of asserting her right over her body and sexual needs makes this story the best among all.
Header image is a combo of still from Lust Stories
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