Anthology: Lust Stories 2
Cast: Amruta Subhash, Angad Bedi, Kajol, Kumud Mishra, Mrunal Thakur, Neena Gupta, Tamannaah Bhatia, Tillotama Shome, Vijay Varma
Directors: Amit Ravindernath Sharma, Konkona Sensharma, R. Balki, Sujoy Ghosh
The first season of Lust Stories came in 2018 when OTT was yet to get the space it enjoys now. The critical acclaim it received needs no introduction. Now, five years later, the second season has premiered on Netflix and this time, the stakes and expectations are higher.
Lust Stories 2 includes four short films by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, Konkona Sensharma, R. Balki and Sujoy Ghosh. Each shows different perspectives of lust and love. While some of the segments are a miss, the ones that hit the ball out of the park cover up for the lost interest. Here's what works and what does not.
R Balki- 2.5 Moons
The first segment is directed by R Balki and stars Neena Gupta, Mrunal Thakur, Angad Bedi and the ensemble. The image of a ‘Dadi’ in Indian cinema is a God-fearing person who shuns the idea of discussing sex and intimacy publicly. Well, trust Neena Gupta to change it completely for you. Imagine using the word ‘noodles’ to describe the importance of knowing your partner’s sexual ‘compatibility’! Balki does it phenomenally with his writers. The first short film is about a young couple (Mrunal Thakur and Angad Bedi) ready to get married. However, her grandmother is more invested in convincing her to have sex with her to-be husband to understand their ‘compatibility’. What follows is a sweet, funny journey.
Balki’s short film gives the anthology a vanilla beginning before the real ‘volcanoes’ explode. It is a straightforward, simple and easy watch. A lot of the credit for making this segment a fairly decent watch goes to the stellar cast. Neena delivers the funniest dialogues without forcing wordplay on the audience. She asks her granddaughter, “Mount Fuji phoota kya?” Balki and Rishi Virmani excel in the writing department when it is about jokes and punchlines.
What lacks is the chemistry between Mrunal and Angad. As individual performers, the actress has more screen space. Major attention has been given to Neena’s character and she excels in every frame. There’s a lack of emotional depth in the way Mrunal’s and Angad’s characters are written. It will be hard to connect with them on a personal level. It is a tad bit simple considering what’s in store.
Konkona Sensharma-4.5 Moons
Konkona Sensharma – the name suggests a masterpiece is on the way. There’s a different magic in stories about women told by women. The actress-turned-director weaves one around a modern working woman (Tillotama Shome) living all by herself in Mumbai and her house help Seema (Amruta Subhash). Reflecting on the lives of women deprived of sexual pleasures, Konkona’s storytelling is like a gentle touch that soothes the inner soul. Empathy, cinematic sensibility and filmmaking maturity ooze in every frame as she talks about the unique relationship shared between a master and a servant. In a short span of time, Konkona and her co-writer Pooja Tolani incorporate a variety of socio-economic issues without losing grip over the core topic – lust.
Konkona's short film is the best in the anthology. The way it has been directed and presented leaves your mind satisfied and your heart full. At no point, she judges her characters and doesn't even allow the audience to put them in brackets. The one with money and luxury is lonely and empty from within and so is the underprivileged whose desire to seek pleasure from her husband is affected due to the conditions they live in. The conflict between the two and how it blends together forms the core of this short film.
Konkona is a phenomenal actress and as a director, she’s equally great. Her picturisation of the characters is what makes her unique. She should direct more and act, too. Tillotama Shome’s performance as the lonely working woman is hauntingly beautiful. The stillness in her eyes communicates louder than words. She’s soft and sensitive while being strong in her own way. Amruta Subhash delivers a phenomenal performance. She comes with a degree of talking with her mannerism. As Seema, Amruta is sly, nonchalant and unabashed in her approach towards seeking sexual pleasure. Konkona, please direct a full-fledged film taking the story forward!
Sujoy Ghosh-2.5 Moons
The master of the mystery genre, Sujoy Ghosh directs the third film of Lust Stories 2. It is headlined by real-life sweethearts, Tamannaah Bhatia and Vijay Varma. There was a lot being spoken about the ‘kiss’ in the film. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Sujoy’s short film revolves around Vijay Chauhan (Vijay Varma) and Shanti (Tamannaah Bhatia). After a car accident outside a quiet unknown village, Vijay is forced to spend a couple of hours there. He meets his ex-wife Shanti who was assumed to be dead. Sujoy and suspense go hand-in-hand and it is natural that the story isn’t linear. The director takes a mystic route this time. The world he creates looks and feels unbelievable. The plot twist is rather safe and predictable.
Compared to the previous films, Sujoy’s segment is underwhelming. Co-written with Ankit Dahiya, the filmmaker fails to evoke interest with unexciting dialogues, a typical plot and forced ‘lusty’ scenes between Tamannaah and Vijay. Vijay shines yet again. Tamannaah tries to fit in but is visibly uncomfortable throughout the film. A lot more was expected from Sujoy.
Amit Ravindernath Sharma-3.5 Moons
The conclusion of Lust Stories 2 is a winner! Amit Ravindernath Sharma directs Kajol, Kumud Mishra and Anushka Kaushik in a surprising thriller drama. Devyani (Kajol), a prostitute married to the influential Mehersa (Kumud Mishra) has to struggle to provide a good life to her son who desires to study in England. The pervert Mehersa has his eyes laid on young, underprivileged girls who work as helpers at his mansion.
Amit’s story starts on a steady note but the climax is mind-blowing. There’s drama, lust, women’s resilience and suspense that one will never see coming. His short film, written along with Saurabh Choudhary, is a classic example of a story told well. It holds the attention throughout despite being possibly the longest in the anthology. While being performance-heavy, the script never loses its steam.
Kajol, who is known for being a chirpy and talkative person, gets minimal dialogues. She communicates through her expressive eyes and graceful yet strong body language. The actress excels in the role. It won’t be surprising if you start hating Kumud Mishra after watching the film. He is brilliant as the pervert Mehersa. The actor’s laugh, smile and body gestures send down shivers. Anushka Kaushik as Rekha is a revelation. She delivers a remarkable and memorable performance. Wait for the end to shock you.
Lust Stories 2 offers diverse stories from some of the finest filmmakers. In a nutshell, it is a sequel that grabs your attention despite some misses.