Lust Stories 2 is engrossing and illuminating

The ensemble cast of Lust Stories 2, a fascinating anthology. Photo: Publicity Photo 

Here is a kind of conundrum: Yes, the four films in this list are all concerned in different ways with lust, a primal emotion. But it is their compilation with the title Lust Stories 2 (as a sequel to Lust Stories that I have not watched) that proves to be its undoing for conservative viewers, Individually, there is nothing excessively bold, especially in the last two stories that are actually diverse kinds of thrillers.

Yes, the first film in the series, surprisingly helmed by R. Balki who normally looks at relationships in a totally different way, has something that might make puritans take offence. The Konkona Sen Sharma segment looks at voyeurism and its culmination again may be too bold for most Indian audiences. But in the manner the stories are treated and unfold, there is a fair amount of truly engrossing entertainment for adults, and you can either subscribe to the credo that it is because or despite the sexual angles!

For me, Sujoy Ghosh’s Sex With Ex worked best: a perfect amalgam of the thematic lust with his now-established brand of twisted thrillers. Ingeniously conceived, the story talks of a lusty, ambitious young man (Vijay Verma, again playing a baddie to perfection after Dahaad) who has a wife (Mukti Mohan) and two kids at home, a horny girlfriend (Jennifer Piccinato) ever willing for a lay, and a prosperous career. But the passage of time sees his Nemesis, and how that happens is best experienced on screen. Tamannaah Bhatia as his former wife is perfectly cast when she encounters him again at an unexpected lcoation. And the man is actually punished for his baser emotions (lust and greed for money) in a totally fascinating manner.

Amit Ravindernath Badhaai Ho Sharma comes out with an absolute and twisted winner in Tilchatta, which means a cockroach. A feudal and patriarchal setup in a Rajasthan village finds the quintessential debauched ruler (Kumud Mishra) having it out with his maidservants. This even as he has brought in Devyani, an ex-prostitute from the local brothel (Kajol), as his queen and even fathered her son (Zeeshan Nadaf). And now, Devyani wants her son to go abroad to study, but the king is unwilling. So she devises a plan to stamp him out like the insect above.

The Mirror does have a fascinating theme but goes into the realm of absurdity. Single designer Ishita (Tilottama Shome) loves watching her maid Seema (Amruta Subhash) and husband Kamal (Shrikant Yadav) doing it on her bed when she returns unexpectedly early one day. She soon makes this a habit (the two are at it daily as their home is too crowded for privacy!) and when things come out in the open, she throws Seema out. Seema, however, has known that Ishita has been watching them. And shortly, something unexpected happens after Ishita finds another maid and Seema gets a new employer.

Made for Each Other is the only totally light section of this anthology. We have an uber-progressive grandma (Neena Gupta), in a conservative setup, advising her granddaughter Veda (Mrunal Thakur) and boyfriend Arjun (Angad Bedi) to ‘try each other out in bed’ before they get hitched. Good sex, she says, is the surest guarantee of a great marriage. Her son and daughter-in-law and Arjun’s parents are all shocked to the core, so do the lovebirds act on her advice?

Overall, this is a fresh and wittily original compilation and what works particularly is the uniformity in background music (Rajesh Roshan-Indeevar’s masterful creation, Jab koi baat bigad jaaye from the 1990 Jurm is recreated and used very well in Sex With Ex). Of course, the cinematographers and editors are separate but show an uniform level of expertise.

A high level of scriptwriting with to-the-point dialogues, superb direction and the variety in locations and theme make for gripping viewing. Among the directors, as said above, the highest scorers are Sujoy and Amit, though as a script, the first episode is breezy as well.

Fascinating performances elevate the film further, though it is here that I must say that the talented volcano, Kajol, on whose charisma the marketing has been designed, is underused. Amidst the “competition”, the game, set and match go to two players in the ensemble: Neena Gupta and Amruta Subhash. But Tilottama Shome, Vijay Varma and Kumud Mishra come up pretty close

Rating: ****

Netflix presents RSVP Movies’ & Flying Unicorn Entertainment’s Lust Stories 2  Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala & Ashi Dua Sara  Music: Aman Pant

Segment: Made For Each Other Directed by R. Balki, Konkona Sen Sharmnaa, R. Balki Written by: R. Balki & Rishi Virmani  Starring: Mrunal Thakur, Neena Gupta, Angad Bedi, Kanupriya Pandit & Hemant Kher

Segment: The Mirror Directed by: Konkona Sen Sharma  Written by: Konkona Sen Sharma & Pooja Tolani  Starring: Tillotama Shome, as Isheeta, Amruta Subhash, Shrikant Yadav, Konkona Sen Sharma (Voice-over) & others

Segment: Sex With Ex Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh Written by: Sujoy Ghosh & Ashok Dahiya Starring: Tamannaah Bhatia, Vijay Varma, Mukti Mohan, Jennifer Piccinato, Jugal Hansraj, Tarun Khanna & others

Segment: Tilchatta  Directed by: Amit Ravindernath Sharma Written by: Amit Ravindernath Sharma & Saurabh Choudhary  Starring: Kajol, Kumud Mishra, Zeeshan Nadaf, Payal Pande, Anushka Kaushik, Vibha Chibber & others



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