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Adult films

Updated on: 02 July,2023 07:19 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Paromita Vohra |

Despite Neena Gupta’s valiant efforts, dadi talking about sex instead of sanyas does not make this any less of a pravachan

Adult films

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Paromita VohraA collection of lust stories could tell us something about how desire plays out in life. Lust Stories S2 is too listless for that. But it does reveal something of how Indian men think about sex. Going by the three films by men in this quartet, they seem deeply absorbed in the solo pleasure of their own bhashanbazi, fixated more on climax than the cinematic sensualities that build up to it, posture as edgy while hiding behind pulp references rather than risk creating their own pulp.

In R Balki’s story, Neena Gupta is supposed to be a cool dadi, who scandalises the family by insisting her grand-daughter and fiancée test drive their sex life before marriage to ensure Mount Fuji erupts. It should be fun, but it feels grating and synthetic. By the 20th repeat utterance, you start feeling you are trapped in a hell made up of sex-positive Instagram Reels, their platitudes about model sexual existence all the film is made of. Despite Neena Gupta’s valiant efforts, dadi talking about sex instead of sanyas does not make this any less of a pravachan.

Sujoy Ghosh uses a moral framework of sin and punishment to stage Savita bhabi type porno images of Tamannah Bhatia. The film is in such a hurry to get to what it thinks is its clever twist (guessable by minute four) that it doesn’t bother to make the journey fun. Similarly intent on its twisty ending, Amit Surendranath Sharma’s exploration of how power turns lust to sordid violence, resorts to cringey haveli clichés, wastes the glorious Kajol and is careless in its use of stigmatised areas like AIDS and sex work. It is unable to actually traverse the dark, repellent depths it claims.

Yaniki a certain middle-class squeamishness makes this enterprise more Yawn Sambandh, less Gandi Baat. It avoids dwelling in the sexual to give us genuinely adult movies about adult emotions—which also says something about how content is created in India.

Only Konkona Sen Sharma’s film is grown-up enough to inhabit the world of lust, that too with a light hand. Two women—Tilottama Shome, a middle-aged single woman, and Amruta Subhas, her domestic staff—become linked in a relationship of exhibitionism and voyeurism. Lust’s inexorable pull, propels transgressions of privacy and middle-class respectability. Lust is a mirror to our undomesticated inner being; carnal intimacy throbs with risk and the breathtaking tension of exposing our naked selves, with or without clothes. Lust becomes an equaliser of sorts, even as class dynamics ebb and flow (mirroring the intimacies of domestic work itself). But the film does not use social issues as a fig leaf. It follows the journey of lust’s impacts, pausing for an unexpected romantic sex scene in the middle, and ending with a sigh, not of resolution as much as acceptance.

One of its great pleasures is to watch the actors—Shome, densely compact, like mercury, Subhash, sharp and quicksilver, their performances mapping the blurry lines where a sexual relationship overflows the boundaries of physical sex into erotic connections. The script’s events being more external incident, less interior occurrence, make the film a tad tidy, when it could have been more tropical and humid. Yet, what a relief to watch #GrownAss women making grown ass work and grown ass love, about that messy business of becoming adults also called life. Gents, take some inspiration please. It’s free(dom).

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at

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