We were still reeling with our grandmothers getting upset with Swara Bhaskar masturbating in ‘Veere Di Wedding’ that Netflix brought scandalous ‘Lust Stories’ into the fray. The online anthology film by four directors – Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee – narrating stories of women exploring sexuality, lust and everything in between.
Thankfully it was not a traditional theatre-release movie, which would’ve painted Indian cities with large posters of Kiara Advani getting an orgasm or Radhika Apte romancing her young student or any other sequence from the film, which would’ve made us sanskari fellows into the first monkey of Mahatma Gandhi (See no evil-wala). So, it was released on Netflix, a subscription-based platform – a concept that fortunately most of us are yet to fathom. Fortunately because here saviours of sabhyata and choppers of ashleeltha won’t bother us. It will also spare us some ugly slogans and wisdom from self-proclaimed nationalists.
So you would think that you can cherish the stunning and bold filmmaking in ‘Lust Stories’ without it being mired with sanskari mud and just then, a voice from a corner gains your attention. “It is an embarrassing scene,” said Lata Mangeshkar’s family regarding a scene where Kiara seeks sexual refuge in a vibrator because her husband – like many Indian men – is clueless that even his wife needs to be satisfied. So, in this story, directed by self-parody master Karan Johar, Kiara is seen masturbating with ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ title song playing in the background. But the Mangeshkar family didn’t get the joke like they didn’t get the one that landed Tanmay Bhatt in some serious and boiling-hot soup.
So, a family member of Mangeshkar – perhaps they are too ashamed of even reveal their names – gave a school-style scolding to KJo for using ‘Lata Didi’s immortal song in such an embarrassing situation’. “Why he needed to use a Bhajan-like song sung in the most revered voice of Asia to show his heroine in an orgasmic state,” the unnamed member went on to say. We dare not say a word against the ‘most revered voice of Asia, because patriotism. But, I wonder why not World’s?
While this is how things happen in India, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave birth to a girl and posted the family picture from the hospital on Instagram. All this while still holding the office. Just imagine how Indians would’ve reacted if this had happened in India. People would’ve taken to roads to protest, raise slogans against her seeking her redemption, champions of culture proclaiming how she disgracing her tradition, her religion, her nation, her womanhood, her motherhood, her freedomhood and all the other hoods their pea-sized brain could think of.
Then there was an incident of how a Canadian Minister breastfed her son inside the Parliament and everyone went on minding their own business as she was. But in our ‘mahaan Bharat’, we dragged a magazine and a model to court because she posed for a picture while breastfeeding a child. How dare she challenge the tradition of giving a peak of a body part which should be kept hidden? Though it’s a different matter that many temples in India are a tribute to Goddess’ various body parts, known as Shakti Peethas. We are a nation which worships body parts of a Goddess as divinity, but when a woman tries to express herself we don’t see anything but vulgarity. Like the Kerala High Court said, “As beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, even vulgarity lies in the eyes of the beholder.”