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Lust Stories: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun


In “Bombay Talkies” (2013), helmed by the same four directors, Dibakar (Star) and Anurag’s (Murabba) stories were standout. Zoya’s was mighty fine and Karan’s was okay.

This time around with “Lust Stories”, things have changed quite a bit. Zoya and Dibakar have delivered breathtakingly great stories and Karan’s and Anurag’s are astonishingly bad, irredeemable cringe-fests. I’m gonna talk about them in the order they are being streamed.

Ph Se Phornicate:

Anurag’s film starts off with the best opening shot of all four and Radhika Apte is subliminal in it but it goes downhill pretty quick and Apte is majorly let down by an ambitious but confused script and a weak plot (she co-wrote the film, by the way). Unbelievably immature character behaviour and too indulgent execution, even for AK’s standards.

Fuck By Chance:

The most nuanced, the shortest and a near perfect segment. My only grouse is that the last couple of minutes could have been trimmed and the fact that Zoya could have had Bhumi not speak a single word in the entire film. That would have been something, no? It is also visually the most accomplished one. It’s hard to believe that a Spanish cinematographer has been so bang-on in capturing the typical Mumbai 1 BHK, the boring Indian uncle-talk, and the daily toil of a housemaid. It is also the only film where the sex was real; dirty and rough as it usually is.

Love, Sex aur Dhokha

Dibakar’s story, which I loved the most, takes the idea of lust and use it to explore much deeper, darker aspects of a dysfunctional marriage and adultery. It also stands out because he picked up such a familiar tale, almost a cliche and still delivered such an intensely entertaining and empowering story.

“What if every relationship you have ever been in is somebody slowly figuring out they didn’t like you as much as they hoped they would?” — James Acaster

“How can you expect everything from only one person?” as Radhika Apte rightfully wonders during the confused muddled up mess that was Kashyap’s segment, there comes a tipping point in almost every relationship when one of the two people realize that the other one is not enough.

“Goa wala ghar, baccho ki education, papa ka loan, girvi gehne,” is what takes precedence over emotional and mental fulfillment in most of the relationships by the time it has evolved enough for the participants to realize that they don’t want to be together anymore. I am gonna talk about this segment from Reena’s (Manisha Koirala) POV who is in one such relationship. She is a trophy. Stuck between two men, both of whom are gas-lighting her into thinking that she is a bitch.

One is a narcissistic, business-minded, patriotic films loving MCP (aptly named Salman) who can’t see her as an equal – “Kya hai tumhari life? Brand Manager, MG Road? Tumhari life wo hai Reena, jo main tumhe permit kar raha hu (What is your life? Brand Manager, MG Road? Your life is only what I have permitted).” He is more concerned about his image in front of a potential investor than her tears.

The other, Sudhir (a terrific Jaideep Ahlawat), is a gentle, more caring man, who simply wants to keep sleeping with her but doesn’t want to do anything beyond that because who the fuck wants to marry a 40+ year-old divorcee and screw-up years of a solid friendship with one’s best friend? The only difference is that he is polite when he is condescending – “Reena tum na phir se apna kaam shuru karo, tumhari 50% problems khatam ho jayengi (Reena, you should start working again. 50% of your problems will get solved).”

Relationships crumble because of lack of respect, not love. One partner gives way too much and the other half doesn’t even acknowledge it, let alone appreciate it. Salman mocks her sacrifices for the family (“She is the queen of ‘Ban sakti thi’ ”) and Sudhir advising him to patch things up with her because she is a ‘great package’ reflects how these two actually see Reena — a means to satisfy their egos. For Salman, she is a trophy he can parade around in parties. For Sudhir, she is a trophy he couldn’t own during college but is now sleeping with and that’s his kick.

Salman incredulously (and hilariously) blurts out “Sudhir Batra? India Bulls?” when Reena tells him about their affair. This is the moment we cut to Sudhir watching an old YT clip which reveals that he is a big-shot heart surgeon and the only Indian cardiologist to… and cut!) The editing is top notch here. The way this film slowly unfolds the character details is just fantastic.

“13 saal ki married life me maine use sirf 11 mahine bore nahi kiya (In 13 years of being married, I didn’t bore her for only 11 months).”

You think you are an alpha stuck in a spark-less marriage. You’re sick of your biwi’s rona-dhona. You want her to just shut the fuck up, be a good mother, and just exist under your patronage and live the life you’re ‘allowing’ her to live.

But, the moment you find out that she’s actually having an affair and fucking someone else, you can feel your manhood getting retracted between your legs. It’s an epiphany. A revelation that she has agency, over her body, over her desires, over her lust and she can satisfy that outside of the marriage, if/whenever she wants. That threatens your already fragile masculinity. The thought of losing her, your kids, your family, your reputation in society leaves you so terrified that you aren’t even ashamed of ugly-crying in the bosom of a woman who, five minutes ago, admitted to having an affair with your best friend for the past three years.

This scene between Sanjay Kapoor and Manisha Koirala, which is a masterclass in understanding male-insecurity/manbaby syndrome, unfolds ever so slowly, showing you the fragility of the male ego and its primitive need to physically claim a woman, consent notwithstanding. It takes you through so many emotions — beginning with pity and ending with disgust — all in the course of barely a minute and half. Dibakar cuts it at the right moment, keeping you wondering if she allowed him to get away with it.

“Thak gayi hoon yaar. Phone me location service off karte-karte thak gayi hoon (I’m tired of turning my phone’s location service off).”

The morning after pill is hard to swallow for both the men. The patriarchal control-freak has to live with the knowledge that she decided to cheat on him with his best friend on a very peaceful day and the opportunist fuckboi has to live with a secret he could have easily avoided if she was in the mood for mercy. But she wasn’t. She was in the mood to reclaim her identity, her individuality and she does that without a care in the world.

She wins, unlike the women of the other three segments, which is why I think this one is the best of the lot.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Orgasm

Karan’s film is set in a small town and the characters talk and behave exactly the way they do in a Mastram book. A woman pleasures herself in the library with transparent windows because it is one of her bucket list fantasy (airplane bathroom is another). The principal leers at an overexposed cleavage like a teenage boy. The husband is a dummy who has no concept of female pleasure and the wife, a school teacher, doesn’t know that one should at least wash someone else’s vibrator before using it.

Karan took the word ‘lust’ quite literally and a bit too seriously. The on-the-nose symbolism and ‘I will teach middle-class India that sex isn’t a four letter word’ attitude wasn’t really needed. A simple google search for ‘Indian porn’, or the opening scene of Masaan, would have given him a good idea of how middle-class tier II town folks fuck, or talk. The only silver lining of this charade was Kiara Advani who is now the light of my life and the fire of my loins.

This post was originally published by Avinash Verma on Medium on June 19, 2018.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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