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‘Lust Stories’ breaks taboo, catches heat

  • Published at 03:53 pm June 27th, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:00 pm June 27th, 2018
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Screenshot taken from the movie Lust Stories

Using a renowned Lata Mangeshkar song in a masturbation scene has infuriated her family members

Women’s sexuality is a taboo subject in the Indian subcontinent but the media making great strides. The Indian audience enjoys watching skimpily-dressed women in item songs, but women addressing their sexuality and desires on-screen, tends to make them fidget at best, and blacklist at worst. 

Netflix original “Lust Stories” is an anthology film which features four storyline. It has been creating a buzz since its release for exploring women’s sexuality and bold masturbation scenes. Veteran directors like Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibakar Banerjee confidently showed women’s physical desires on screen.

In his short film, Karan Johar used the famous family song “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” at the moment when Kiara Advani, lead role of the film climaxes – just like the film – using a vibrator in front her mother-in-law and husband in the living room. Soundtrack dissonance technique was used in the song in such ironic way which complemented the scene. However, family members of the acclaimed singer Lata Mangashkar were angry with the filmmaker for using the song in what they described to be “an embarrassing scene,” according to the Hindustan Times.

A member of the Mangeshkar family raised questions on Karan’s decisions and asked: “Why? Why did Karan Johar use Lata Didi’s immortal song in such an embarrassing situation? I still remember how ecstatic Karan was when Didi had recorded the song for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Why turn the dream song into a nightmare now?” 

Feedback from social media users have been unwaveringly in support of using the song in the scene. A number of people have pointed out the pun in the song’s title in relation to the scene subject. A popular discourse seems to be the song was perfectly used.

The artist remains unaware of the use of her song in this particular context.

Lust Stories has a message for women. Each and every woman can relate to the characters in this film at some point. The film shows that women can take charge of their lives. Women have rights to make bold life choices and walk away from unhappy situations.  

Films like “Veere Di Wedding”, “Lust Stories”, and “Lipstick Under My Burkha” have recently set new trends, broken new grounds, by exploring women’s sexuality. Their usage of humour in conjunction with sexuality is the polar opposite of how mainstream comedy films play on sexual tropes. In films like “Masti” or “Grand Masti”, men’s infidelity and sexual conquests are passed off as juvenile humour. Films which are intrinsically sex-driven, like the “Nasha” or Jism” franchises, the sex scenes explicitly objectify women, to little protest.

As such, whatever heat “Lust Stories” is getting from angry families or disappointed critics, it is all part of a fire that is burning away the old taboos and forging a new, better landscape for Indian cinema with realistic portrayal of humane feelings and emotions, not just another overused film trope.