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Breaking Taboos and Addressing Societal Issues: Lust Stories 2 Review

Lust Stories 2.jpg

While Season 1 of Lust Stories was an attempt at celebrating female sexuality, Season 2 felt like a lacklustre sequel that lacked the female touch.

The anthology film Lust Stories 2 dropped on Netflix last week and I was very excited to witness four new stories exploring female sexuality. But I was primarily disappointed as two stories didn’t even fit the script. Nonetheless, the stories were a mix of different genres and a lot of complex emotions that made it an exciting watch. 

The first story, titled ‘Made For Each Other’, directed by R. Balki explores the importance of sexual chemistry in crafting a successful marriage. The plot revolves around family friends Veda and Arjun whose families arrange their marriage. While the couple is excited about the union, Veda’s grandmother raises the need for the two to check their sexual chemistry before tying the knot. Her remarks are met with scepticism and disapproval by the couple’s parents, but she holds her ground. She encourages Veda not to shy away from discovering their sexual chemistry because of her parents. While this scene was a bit overdone for me, it is an important message for all couples. The most powerful scene according to me was when the grandmother schools Veda’s parents for shying away from this very important subject. She feels sad for Veda’s mother because she is living a caged life busy with household chores, with no time for her sexual pleasure. Overall this story was quite meaningful for young and old couples alike.

The second film titled ‘The Mirror’ is my favourite out of the lot. Directed by Konkona Sen Sharma, the story revolves around Ishita, a designer in her mid-30s and her exploration of her sexual pleasures. One afternoon, she returns home early as she was suffering from a severe migraine. She finds her maid, Seema, having sex in her apartment. Despite being utterly shocked and disgusted by this, she is unable to confront the maid or stop her. Later however she realises, that she is turned on by watching them having sex. She starts to leave work early to watch them have sex every afternoon through a mirror in her dining room. One day Seema catches Ishita watching her through the mirror. Unable to confront her for fear of losing her job, she doesn’t acknowledge the situation. She too felt excited by having someone watch her. Things go astray when all this comes out in the open. While both of them hurl insults at each other, ultimately Seema has to leave her job. A few weeks later they run into each other and finally acknowledge the fact that they both derived pleasure from the arrangement and it is suggested that they return to their old ways. This story is the most well-made as it explores not just the world of fantasies, sexual pleasure, and desires but also the nuances of casteism, societal divide and social stigma. This is surely a story to watch!

Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, the third story titled ‘Sex with the Ex’ felt the most disappointing to me. From the backdrop to the storyline, everything felt like a Bollywood film stuck in the 80s. The film features a young CEO Vijay, who seems to be in a strained marriage. He met with an accident while on his way to meet his girlfriend and gets stranded in a village. On his way to find a mechanic, he runs into his ex-wife, Shanti, who had disappeared almost 10 years back. He follows her to her house despite knowing that she is with someone else. The two get talking and ultimately end up having sex. Later while discussing past events Shanti shares the reason for her disappearance after being kidnapped and almost murdered by goons. Afraid for her life, she assumes that it was orchestrated by Vijay’s wife Anu and thus she decided to run away. Vijay’s response however suggests that it was in fact he who had plotted the whole thing to take over Anu’s father’s company. This triggers Shanti and the two of them end up fighting leading to Vijay killing Shanti. The ending though unclear, suggests that Shanti’s partner finds Vijay and kills him too. You can’t deny that this sounds like a plot from an old movie that no one cares to watch today. I was disappointed at the lack of emotions in this story as this only felt like a perverted man’s attempt at marrying rich and being successful.

The fourth story by Sujoy Ghosh titled Tilchatta was a unique story. The story follows Devyani, a former prostitute who marries a wealthy king Suraj Singh to provide for her son Ankur and send him off to London. Suraj Singh is shown as an alcoholic and rapist. He constantly vents his anger on Devyani by assaulting her and also rapes younger women by leveraging his power and wealth. When Devyani finds out about a young prostitute Rekha who is suffering from HIV, she plots her escape from Suraj Singh while securing his son’s future. She hires Rekha as a maid in the hope that Suraj would inevitably rape her as he did with the previous maid and catch the disease. One day when she hears moaning from the adjacent room. Excited that her plan is succeeding, she goes to her husband’s room only to discover that her son Ankur was having sex with Rekha. She is stunned to realise that her plan completely backfired. While this story was not a typical representation of ‘Lust Stories’, I still appreciate the filmmaker for addressing these taboo issues of prostitution, STDs, etc.

While I enjoyed the overall experience, I was hoping for some more complex and taboo issues to be addressed. It almost felt like a missed opportunity to talk about relevant issues in society and be inclusive. Except for the mirror, all the stories felt like something we have watched before and didn’t bring any novelty. Nonetheless, I can acknowledge and appreciate the messaging and storytelling for most of these films and hope that this portrayal of female sexuality continues. 

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