Lust Stories makers: Many ways to interpret lust
Bollywood's top filmmakers talk about the making of Lust Stories, which drops on Netflix tomorrow
In Hollywood, both, actors and filmmakers are referred to as talents. Unlike in Bollywood, no one is addressed star, hero, heroine or director. Filmmakers Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap are still getting acquainted with the term - even poking fun at it - when we meet them at a suburban five-star to discuss their latest offering, Lust Stories. 'Talent' is inevitably finding its way into this industry, given that their anthology film is set to stream on Netflix, an American outfit. "That's how they refer to every artiste in the West," points out Dibakar Banerjee, as Johar quips, "But, in Bollwood, there is no talent."
Kiara Advani and Vicky Kaushal
Zoya Akhtar offers a promising note when she says, "Now, we are the talent!" Disconnected from this tomfoolery, Anurag Kashyap — the poster boy of festival circuits, and hence well-versed with the term — smirks in the corner. Five years after their anthology, Bombay Talkies (2013) — created to mark 100 years of Indian cinema — the four disparate directors reunite for another edition. Lust Stories, which drops on Netflix tomorrow, sees each of the 20-30 minute shorts look at love and lust in real-life relationships against the urban milieu. Though each one worked independently, they all have women at the helm of their shorts.
Akash Thosar and Radhika Apte
While Kashyap's muse is a married woman (Radhika Apte), who finds herself attracted to a younger man (Akash Thosar), Johar takes on the turmoil of a newly-wed (Kiara Advani). Banerjee weaves a tale about an older couple with a cast including Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Kapoor and Jaideep Ahlawat painting his story. Akhtar's is about a domestic help's (Bhumi Pednekar) unspoken love.
Jaideep Ahlawat and Manisha Koirala
Asserting that love and lust can be interpreted in many ways, Karan Johar says, "Even though the subject is the same, each of us has told the story differently. What matters is the way you look at it. There's guilt, confusion and choices [to make]. You go through a gamut of emotions." Like they did while working on the series' last edition, the filmmakers, Banerjee reveals, did not drop in on each others' sets to know how their films were unfolding. "We saw each other's works at a screening at Zoya's home. We did discuss each other's work but did not dissect it," he reveals. And even though Akhtar looks at the collaboration as one where no one is "trying to outdo the other", Banerjee says the "healthy competition" helped them "challenge ourselves to do better".
With low budget ventures on their resume, Banerjee and Kashyap confess they did not struggle to make a film within a stipulated budget. The factor was a deterrent for Johar, whose every frame is accustomed to spelling money. "[Working on a stipulated budget] worried me the most. It was difficult for me to shoot. It meant that if I shot for extra days, I did not pay the cast."
Producer Ashi Dua says she couldn't imagine making the film if it wasn't for this combination. A third outing, "if at all it happens", will also involve the same quartet. While Bombay Talkies enjoyed a theatrical release, was the decision to release Lust Stories on Netflix taken to avoid a battle at the Censor Board? Dua says, "We had always planned to release it digitally. So we will never know if the Board would have had an issue." Johar, however, says, Kashyap would know. "He has had many a battle with the Censor folk."
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