Review of Lust Stories.
Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannises. ~ Marquis de Sade.
If the purpose of art is to express fundamental human condition, which part of humanity should it stress more?
The vibrant colours that the retina could capture? The sonorous notes that could tingle your senses? Thorough gratification of the palate? A stucco that could open up your nerves when you touch it?
What is it that the artist should stress upon - on which sense of yours?
When art express certain things, the senses pick it up. Sex is where the senses converge. It is where the visual, words, smell, taste and touch converge. That’s were the art could hit hard.
If the art could capitalise the Dionysian facet of humanity, it could convey more. No wonder why sex/erotica is the sanctuary of that artist who needs to show more and talk less.
Suppression of sexuality is a means of social control. Whether you like it or not, if men, women and everyone in between are granted a free reign, they would inevitably topple the sacred structures that hold stratified societies together.
Not that ‘powers that be’ care about you fornicating. But when sacred boundaries of Caste, Race, Religion, Ethnicity and Nationalities are broken via the union of loins, they could be broken through other means as well.
This is a dangerous idea to put inside the minds of the Hoi Polloi. Love stories in public domain has to be conforming. Movies sport actors who are conventionally beautiful. This isn’t a grand plan to oppress others, but an expression of entrenched ideas in a desperate attempt to save themselves.
Indians are slowly ditching ‘fairness’ standards in favour of more ‘substance’ in our potential partners. Our movies will soon follow suit. So as we move towards modernity via industrialisation and urbanisation, our ideals change as well. Our morals and values has to change.
This is a constant churn; it would be really hard to pause at a certain moment and pipette out a specimen of contemporary culture for all of us to see. Challenge to the artist is to reproduce this faithfully. And when talking about human condition, what’s more realistic than bringing the focus back to our loins?
It’s easier to talk about humanity if we were to talk in terms of sex. You don’t have to magnify it to Freudian scales, but most human interactions are affected by the way sexuality influences a person.
Hypocrisy is a word that most of us love. We use it everywhere, well because there are reasons aplenty to throw it around. Just look around; You see it a lot, don’t you?
Have we ever wondered about those genes which make us horny? What are they doing in people who gave it to us? Not just our parents, but this society in general? Even our vocabulary is limited when it comes to talking sex. When they told us to be good boys and girls devoid of sexual expression, what were they doing?
I am not trying to ‘sexify’ everything as Freud did. But may be somewhere, isn’t this self suppression an extension of our own subservience to a society that expects us to conform? To conform, we need to suppress. To suppress the urges, where will the training come from?
Sore loins are a necessary precondition to a paranoiac mind in which we could breed hostility. Hostility towards an imagined enemy is necessary to build social cohesion in communities.
You see the pattern, don’t you?
This is why art is characteristically subversive. Art talking about sex more so. This art in a sexually repressed society? Even more so!
Now that we have the necessary background, let’s talk about the movie.
There are many ways to protest in art. One is to expose to the world how stupid a something is and ask for it to effectuate change. Another is to show an alternate reality where things are better or worse. Create an utopia or a dystopia; you churn their gut enough to make them see.
And hope they change.
I would make no silly attempt to read this art because I believe that these characters tell different stories to different people.
Kalindi is a mirror, a reflection. She aspires for something in her partner. She hates certain things in him. In an effort to get him rid of those, she metamorphose into a person she would have hated to her guts.
But the apparent abhorrence is masked by her brilliance. The intelligent, charming Kalindi is a neat cover up for the virago, that disgusting desperate bitch. Her manipulations and machinations hit the end rather than act as a means to an end. Much disdain she deserves, but she loses the thrust as soon as she receives her object of passion.
To the uninitiated, this is all power is about. I shouldn’t talk more about this and ruin the pleasure of discovering it all by yourself.
To the maid who sleeps with her employer; class and caste soon finds her where she is the more vulnerable - at her loins. After copulating in their natural self, they proceed to wear their class symbols. Him the shining corporate armour of the upper middle class and her, the worn out attire of her class, much expendable.
Then, as they drift back into their real selves, this dream is lost. The last remnants are washed away as she herself is changing the bed sheet. In between, they enjoy a moment of equality - where she calls him a dirty dog.
She could afford to call him a dirty dog because she slept with him. The proletariat will always get to the negotiating table. But to reach there, they have to sell themselves first.
Power is about being able to extract favours. Even when you are paying for them somehow. The imaginary settings and the universes we construct for the worker bees in their fabled cubicles and all that. You don’t really see it, do you?
Here too, the reality dawns her as she walks into that elevator. An elevator that takes her back into the subaltern, her place in this world.
What do you do when your wife sleeps with your best friend? Whom do you hurt? Do you become a volcano or cry like a baby?
The masculinity that I have seen inside me makes it clear in no uncertain terms that it is really hard for a man to grow up in this society and attain emotional maturity. Just like the shackles on women, we carry the unnecessary burden of pride and honour in our tender backs.
We crumble and we fall. In our failure, we take humanity with us - men, women and everyone in between. We survive with the ability to mask our failures and apply the makeups of a happy family or a lucrative business deal. We don’t really live, we float.
But life sometimes do confront you. When your wife sleeps with your best friend. When that happens, it is up to you to figure out what it means.
Karan Johar demolishes the notions of masculinity in his piece. What about a handsome hunk who feel entitled to women’s bodies, despite his inability to satisfy them?
How the entire universe conspires (damn you Paulo Coelho!) to get him laid! The seemingly innocuous and ‘cute’ aspirations of the older generations is enormously violent. Violent in the sense that it violates countless women and take away their agency on their own bodies.
And when she rebel? She’s a slut, a whore, an expendable vagina that could be substituted with something better that’s always available in the market!
Now, I am not talking as a feminist. For my unapologetic inclinations towards the application of feminist theory, I respectfully disagree with the cult that begs for political correctness from an amorphous mass of dullards.
To exert equality is to seize the moment and show how stupid it is to endorse patriarchy. While showing how violent it is, make it clear that we won’t be cowed down by it.
Think about that handsome hunk who feel entitled to his wife’s body. He loses it in less than five seconds. Never does he reach five fingers, in her scale of respectability and rather, ‘sustainability’ (pun intended!). Still, she would be punished for pursuing an orgasm, a priced commodity in her parched life.
Think about Salman Khan playing the role of this man! The masculinity that we have cultivated as a cultural value has little correlation with the real males you meet out there. But such lofty goals are required if you are to have social control.
You see were I am going, aren’t you?
The woman extends enormous kindness when she gives that man access to her body. Still he feels entitled to her body and never bothers about what she might expect. Such failure in bed is the ultimate nightmare of an average man - someone who couldn’t see the purpose of sex beyond the act of coitus.
It is extremely difficult to teach the nuances. But it is pretty easy to show them the effects and the edges of this graph (excuse the jargon, you may read it as the faces of the cube) of reality. Then, they might see it and appreciate.
Of course, I liked the movie. I see that much more is possible and much more in this direction will come from our directors as we move away from the compulsions of creating ‘mass movies’.
These are niche topics that could help us reflect. But I am afraid, the resources necessary to enjoy them aren’t available to everyone. But this shouldn’t hold back the directors. As time progress, such images will be so widespread so that our society will pick them up in the first instance.
As easily as we connect with the sound of deflating tyres with premature ejaculation, we could connect with these symbols too.
That’s the purpose of lust you know, to connect. Even if we don’t know what ensues or what it means to us. That innate desire, a passion to connect and be known. To expose our vulnerabilities so that we could devour on the vulnerabilities of the other - lust is ubiquitous.
I shall write no more. For sex has to stay like a sweet bubble flower bud before all these images would bust it forever. And with it, all the notions of purity and barriers that are built into our collective psyche.