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Love and lust play predominant complex roles in man’s life, referenced as ‘id’ in Freudian terms.   They have from time immemorial been the staple of man’s creative works – poetry, epics and fiction.  In the post-Renaissance period, they have been the perennial sources of man’s high creativity. In modern times, love and lust power cinema and permeate it.  Breaking the age-old taboo on expressions of lust and sex, cinema has made the most of love and lust themes. In this digital age, OTT platforms have done one better, dishing out films exploring several mysterious dimensions of lust.

In sync with the trend, Lust Stories 2 is streaming on Netflix. It is a sequel to Lust Stories 1 released in 2018. Like the first part, Lust Stories 2 too is an anthology of films directed by R. Balki, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sujoy Ghosh and Amit Ravindranath, exploring various dimensions of lust.

Forms of lust
The film Made For Each Other directed by Balki features two friends, who happen to meet after a long time and who then decide to get their children married off to each other.  Accordingly, the prospective young pair have a tete-a-tete, discovering their mutual similarities.  As the marriage proposal gets into good shape, the bride’s grandmother intervenes, asking the young pair if they have a proper understanding of sex. Her question, loaded with subtextual depth, sinks into the minds of the parents as a question whether the young pair have had premarital sex. They squirm, looking askance at the elderly woman, shocked at her blunt and frank poser.  However, the old woman convinces her granddaughter of the rightness and propriety of her question. The film ends after showing how the young couple react to the old woman’s stance.

The Mirror directed by Konkona Sen Sharma delves deep into the mind of a middle-aged woman tormented by the denial of sexual pleasure. She derives voyeuristic pleasure from often spying on her husband bedding with their maid. One day the woman gets exposed. Both women try to prove their innocence.  Then the story proceeds to delineate how the characters are affected.

Lust Stories 2 too is an anthology of films, streaming on Netflix, directed by R. Balki, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sujoy Ghosh and Amit Ravindranath, exploring various dimensions of lust

Sex with X that Sujoy Ghosh has directed shows a married man meeting with his ex-lover.  Lust plays a principal part in their meeting that happens after a long time.  Yet, fantasy and thrill dominate the narrative, the film talks less about sex than other films in the anthology.

Tilchatta directed by Amit Ravindranath peeks into the private chamber of a king. The king’s wife was once a prostitute.  Even after marriage, he treats her just like that.  So, she is just a namesake queen.

They have a son who feels disgusted with his father’s prurience. One day the young man sees his father molesting a new maid recruit and his hatred for his father touches a new high.  Later, it is revealed that the maid is also a prostitute.  The story ends with a sudden twist.

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The Lust Stories 2 conveys the message that though manifest in different forms, lust has only one origin.  While the first two short films are dripping with lewdness, the other two use lust just as a showpiece.

Impressive visualisation
Each film condenses 20-30-minute content into the narrative. There’s nothing new or fresh about Balki’s story, holding aloft the Tamil Sangam-era concept of ‘wedding after familiarisation of lust.’ It would be more appropriate to say that lust is only cyclic, holding us under control rather than to affirm that the old is always new.

It is Sujoy Ghosh’s film which has pushed Tamanna into the social media discourse.  Frankly speaking, it is Tamanna’s glam and glitz that set ablaze the screen and the hearts of viewers.  Her charming appearance feels superior to even the elegant European ladies appearing in colourful portraits of the Renaissance era. Vijay Varma who plays opposite her in the lead seems to wriggle in his lust.  The major drawback of the film is its predictability that hardly surprises viewers long exposed as they are to thrillers.

In Amit Ravindranath’s film, it is the Kajol-Kumud Mishra pair’s performance that dominates.  In addition, Anushka Kaushick’s fetching looks spices up the visualisation.  The film gives the same feeling that a reader may get when a short story ends abruptly.

Apart from Taban Tushar Basu and Anand Basal, PC Sriram has contributed to the cinematography of the Lust Stories 2.

Different groups have done the pre-production and post-production of the anthology. Their hard work gets reflected in the overall elegance of Lust Stories 2.

The anthology conveys the message that though manifest in different forms, lust has only one origin.  While the first two short films are dripping with lewdness, the other two use lust just as a showpiece

The waiting volcano
India is reputed for following the Tantric method of merging with the Almighty through lust. But to talk about sex in the public domain has become taboo.

Lust Stories 2 has skipped travelling through the obscurantist terrains and just focuses on the role of lust in human life.  Like in the first anthology, the Lust Stories also spins stories around unspeakable lust.

The viewers may like Balki’s film instantly for it smashes the myth that the oldies are hardcore conservatives frowning upon talk about sex.  In a scene, senior actress Neena Gupta uses the phrase Mount Fuji and Mrinal Thakur enjoys the underlying connotation of the phrase.  The subtext of Mount Fuji that a woman’s body waiting like a volcano has to be transformed by the closeness of understanding and loving hits home immediately.  Today it is one of the viral subjects adding grist to the social media mill.

Sujoy Ghosh’s film strikes one as an erotic thriller. Similarly, Amit Ravindranath’s film comes off more as a drama.

Also Read: Titanic meets Thandatti: When love survives honour killings

Konkana Sen Sharma’s film alone is a picture–perfect portrait of lust, revealing the shades of a woman’s inner sexual energy. The way the woman’s rigidities of body and mind are shown as taking on elasticity helps the film stand apart.

Most people do not understand the difference between porno and erotic. Rather than mechanical fiction, it is narratives that lay stress on sex springing from warm feelings of love and empathy, which strike a chord with the viewers.

Of the four short stories in the Lust Stories 2 , viewers can choose any according to their predilections, while exploring the merits and demerits of an entire anthology.

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