Lust Stories 2(Netflix)
Rating: *** ½
Lost in lust, or perhaps the hit lust…such mischievous descriptions spring to mind as we watch an extremely sexual Grandma in Balki’s story played by Neena Gupta about whom her screen-son Ayushman Khurrana had famously said she doesn’t give those “Maa wali vibes”.
Here in the second part of Lust Stories, Gupta gives herself a gala time as a grandmom counselling her grandchild Mrunal Thakur(who giggles her way through her perky part) to have sex with her fiancée(Angad Bedi looking visibly uncomfortable with barely six lines to speak) before marrying him.
Horny Granma’s logic is, “Even when you buy car you first test-drive it.”
I have never come across a grandma like Gupta in R Balki’s warm and well-meaning segment in this four-part saga where one story, like Neeraj Ghaywan’s Geeli Pucchi in the Karan Johar anthology Ajeeb Dastaans in 2021, stands leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.
The Geeli Pucchi of Lust Stories 2 is Konkona Sen Sharma’s sensually ripe story of a very strange sexual bond between a suburban single woman and her househelp. Both the vaginally vibrant parts are played by two powerful actresses Tillotama Shome and Amruta Subhash who give a stirring sensual twist to the traditional maalkin-baaiequation. Konkona herself pitches in as a voice on the phone in this deeply sexualized story of voyeurism, orgasms and other forbidden pleasures.
Interestingly Amit Sharma underuses the imperious Kajol in his story and also casts her against her image as a long-suffering woman in a crumbling feudal household with a husband ,played with gusto by the ever-dependable Kumud Mishra, who fucks everything that moves(excuse the exaggeration) and treats his wife as a dormat.
Sharma’s Sahib Bibi Aur Julum is so predictable it feels derivative even when it isn’t. The twist at the end is so selfdefeating it feels like the narrative favours torture and sadism for the wife’s character even as he lunges at a shadowy freedom. The storytelling has a keen eye for atmospheric detail but the leery tone is off-putting.
Undeniably the worst story of the quartet is the one directed by Sujoy Ghosh featuring Vijay Varma and Tamannaah Bhatia as former lovers reuniting in what looks a set representing a doll’s house depiction of dystopia . For months we have been hearing of the chemistry between Varma and Bhatia. Sure,there is plenty of kissing and caressing. But the chemistry between the two is as artificial and unconvincing as everything else in the story.
What was Sujoy Ghosh thinking? Maybe he should have watched his co-directors’ take on lust(a close cousin to love, if we are to believe this anthology) to get a feel of how the characters fall in place as they struggle with their carnal compulsions.
Lust Stories 2 may not have any epiphanic moment like Kiara Advani’s cloudburst of repressed sexuality in Lust Stories in 2018. But it is nonetheless a delectable followup to the first four forays into thirst burst.At times the directors seem to be struggling with their definition of lust. But eventually it all comes together in a seamless celebration of carnal pleasures, barring of course the Sujoy Ghosh segment which is full-blown travesty.