Lust Stories 2 Review
Lust Stories 2 Review
Lust Stories 2 Review: From the pulpy and playful to the putrid and puckered, Lust Stories 2, pretty much like its predecessor, is a mixed bag.
Two of the stories in the Netflix film centre on lust as a tool of power, a means of entrapment or an act of vengeance. This pair of tales is animated by vengeance seekers. Another segment has two women - one a corporate exec, the other a domestic help - squaring off in an unusual and searching spiral of voyeurism and arousal.
One story is set in an oneiric, beguiling little town where a chance encounter between a man and his former wife, who went missing years ago, triggers renewed but portentous ardour.
Exciting as that may sound, Lust Stories 2 does not tee off too well. The opening story (Made for Each Other, directed and co-written by R. Balki) delivers neither pleasure nor joy. A fluffy and sterile take on the centrality of good sex in a happy marriage, it steers clear of the more complex zones that the other stories explore.
The first segment is, however, salvaged a touch by Neena Gupta as a disruptive granny who trots out refreshingly unabashed ideas about mating game rules.
Made for Each Other is about a just-engaged couple, Veda (Mrunal Thakur) and Arjun (Angad Bedi). At the behest of the girl's grandmother who believes that no marriage can survive bad sex, they decide to put their "compatibility in the bedroom" to the test before they get legally hitched.
The no-nonsense naani insists that only Mount Fuji-like eruptions would count as peak performance. While the young couple is at it - all the action takes place behind closed hotel doors - the old woman turns her attention to her 52-year-old son (Hemant Kher) and 48-year-old daughter-in-law (Kanupriya Pandit).
Rekindle the spark that has gone out of your marriage, she says to the girl's parents, all the while talking up the great sex that she had with her husband till the day he was alive.
It is left to the film's second part, Konkona Sen Sharma's The Mirror, to turn on the heat and help Lust Stories 2 put the drab kick-off behind it. What follows are three successive segments that are significantly steamier and more enticing.
The Mirror, which examines female erogeneity in a new light, sends the film into a tangled, twisted terrain as it examines carnal pleasure and its frequently puzzling manifestations.
Sen Sharma's segment holds up a mirror to the inner worlds of two dissimilar women - successful and single professional Isheeta (Tillotama Shome) and her trusted all-purpose maid Seema (Amruta Subhash) - and probes the upshots of a piquant situation that arises when the former stumbles upon a startling scene when she returns from work one afternoon.
Isheeta is thrown off at first, unsure what to make of what she has inadvertently barged into. But she quickly begins to see what is before her eyes almost every day as an opportunity to liven up her dull, sexless life, if only by proxy.
The script by Pooja Tolani and Sen Sharma looks at the dynamics of female desire in two different physical spaces - the cramped tenement that Seema lives in with her husband Kamal (Shrikant Yadav) and two children and the high-end apartment that belongs to Isheeta but of which the maid has a free run in the daytime.
Powered by two magnetic performances from Shome and Subhash, The Mirror maps the deepest impulses of the two women as they are drawn into a vicarious 'relationship' that stimulates them beyond their imagination and unlocks an ineffable degree of sexual frisson.
Sujoy Ghosh's Sex with Ex, starring Tamannaah Bhatia and Vijay Varma as a long-disappeared woman and her one-time husband and corporate honcho respectively, is a genre exercise that embraces both the coital and the confounding in its portrait of a relationship that ended abruptly in mysterious circumstances.
Employing a bright colour palette that lends the backdrop the feel of a dreamscape, the story is about Vijay Chauhan (Varma), a father of two boys, who is on his way to meet a clandestine squeeze when he is summoned back to the office for a board meeting. He turn around but drives his vintage car into a tree to avoid hitting a cyclist.
The search for a car mechanic leads Vijay into a town where he spots an enigmatic and seductive woman who has the face of his ex-wife Shanti (Bhatia) who vanished without a trace. But is she quite who he thinks she is?
A mean, tough-talking cop is not far from the scene, old habits (Vijay drinks coffee without milk, the lady tea with milk) have still not been forgotten and a befuddling brassiere size raises a question in the man's mind. Even as the conundrums multiply, sparks fly between the two.
The lady advises the accidental visitor not to tarry. You should leave, she says repeatedly. The man does not heed the advice. You owe me an explanation, he insists. The story leaves a strand or two unexplained but it is tantalising enough to hold one's attention.
A high-wattage Tamannaah sizzles and glows; Vijay Varma absorbs the heat without melting and even generates some of his own. The chemistry between the two actors enlivens the intriguing encounter between two people who at first flush appear to be from different planets.
Amit Ravindernath Sharma's Tilchatta, provides a fitting end to a quartet that, after the flat and dreary domesticity of Made for Each Other, forays into themes of pride and revenge, suppressed longings, long buried secrets, corrosive jealousies, feudal oppression and desperate bids for freedom.
Scripted by Saurabh Chaudhary and the director, the pitch-dark Tilchatta is fronted by Kajol in the role of a powerless queen of a palace and a kingdom that has clearly seen better days. Kumud Mishra plays a feudal lord who rides roughshod over women, be they in his bed or elsewhere.
The two reside in a Rajasthan haveli, a toxic bubble that conceals many an unsavoury secret. In the drama about lacerations of heart and body, confinement and the desire for freedom provide the narrative crux. Three individuals, driven by ambition and a yearning for autonomy, plot to escape their fate.
Devyani Singh (Kajol), treated like a doormat by Suraj Singh (Mishra), is determined to get her own back by sending her son Ankur (Zeeshan Nadaf) to England. She hires a new cleaning lady, Rekha (Anushka Kaushik). Inevitably, the lecherous Suraj Singh begins to lust for her. The harried queen resolves to make the most of the situation in her quest for freedom for herself and her son.
Kajol's solid performance lends the story a meaty centre. Kumud Mishra is as impressively flawless - and effortless - as ever. The two younger actors, Anushka Kaushik and Zeeshan Nadaf, deserve special mention. They are as good as anyone else in Lust Stories 2.
From the pulpy and playful to the putrid and puckered, Lust Stories 2, pretty much like its predecessor, is a mixed bag. The storytelling isn't always lusty. But when it is, there is enough zest in here for the occasional creases not to get in the way.
Kajol, Tamannaah, Vijay Varma, Amruta Subhash, Angad Bedi, Kumud Mishra, Mrunal Thakur, Neena Gupta, Tillotama Shome
Amit Sharma, Konkona Sen Sharma, R Balki, Sujoy Ghosh