An Interesting Anthology About Love, Romance and Sex
Split into four distinct stories and directed by some of the hottest talent in India right now, Lust Stories is a well shot, interesting exploration of sexuality, relationships and love. Each of the stories have a distinct style attached to them which helps to make each part unique. There are a few ideas here that may seem a little alienating depending on your own experience or how open you are to dynamic relationships but for the most part, Lust Stories does well to characterise every narrative and showcase the current romantic situations in India right now.
Each of the four different stories explore a different theme or type of relationship beginning with Anurag Kashyap’s story. The story here revolves around a relationship that quickly sours and becomes possessive; expect uncomfortable phone calls, obsessive behaviour and general stalking to take up the majority of the run time. What’s particularly interesting about this storyline is the narrative perspective. Most of the story switches between a face to face interview and the story itself, all told through the eyes of Kalindi (Radhika Apte) as she becomes increasingly emotional and attached following an innocent fling with a student. The way she tries to rationale this behaviour while maintaining she’s happily married helps to flesh her character out in a realistic manner.
Zoya Ahktar’s story is a little more subtle and sombre in tone, revolving around a maid and her desire to be with a married man. This story features a lot less of the musical interludes and emotionally charged dialogue prevalent in the first story and this stylistic difference does make the tale feel a little lacklustre in comparison. Thankfully a brilliant performance from lead protagonist Sudhar (Bhumi Pednekar) keeps this one engaging although the short run time is a little disappointing as the ending abruptly finishes with little warning.
The third tale, directed by Dibakar Banerjee, is easily the most unique and confusing of the bunch when it comes to the relationship depicted. A middle aged woman caught between two men wrestles with her own emotions as she tries to make sense of the strange situation she finds herself in. The bizarre tonal shift toward the end of the story and a whole host of unanswered questions may well leave you feeling discontent rather than liberated when this one finishes.
Karan Johar’s comedic perspective on sexual satisfaction closes out the four tales which in many ways is a slightly odd choice to finish on. With three stories mainly focusing on serious adult and thought provocative ideas, ending on such a massive tonal shift feels a little jarring and perhaps may have been better placed midway through the film. Having said that, the awkwardness of sex, satisfying your partner and the eventual niggling irritations evident in most relationships make this the easiest to understand for a general audience and arguably one of the better stories here.
Lust Stories won’t be for everyone. Some may find a lot of the ideas explored a little outlandish or completely alienating depending on your experience with some of these issues. Lust Stories is a great anthology of films, technically adept and well acted throughout. The different styles and attitudes from each of the Directors are plain to see and for the most part, this anthology is an enjoyable and eye opening look at the complicated, and oftentimes messy, state of romance in India. Whether you’ve watched other Bollywood offerings before or never touched an Indian film in your life, Lust Stories is an interesting four-story romantic venture worth checking out.