The segment directed by Dibakar Banerjee and starring Manisha Koirala in the aptly-named Lust Stories, an anthology film released on Netflix, is conspicuous by the absence of physical intimacy.
Though the performances of the female leads of the other three segments – Radhika Apte, Bhumi Pednekar, and Kiara Advani are rather bold and risqué, Koirala was not on board to match up to them.
Talking about her hesitance in portraying intimacy on-screen and her experience working with Banerjee, the actress says, “I am deeply impressed by Dibakar’s open-minded, responsive attitude. He listens to everyone, not just actors but also the crew. He narrated the story to me over Skype, as I was in Nepal. I had my reservations about the love-making scenes in the script, and I told him very frankly that I’d had some bad experiences with on-screen intimacy in the past.”
But the director didn’t let that take away from his story, he just found a way around it.
“We managed to convey so much about the dynamics between my character and the two men in her life anyway. What I liked about my character is that she is past the age at which women in our films are allowed to have affairs. And she is more fearless about her feelings for than the two men. It’s a role that I haven’t done before, but Dibakar made it so easy. He handled the complexities of the situation gracefully, and I felt completely comfortable working on this film,” Koirala says, adding, “Dibakar is a refreshing mix of old-school filmmaking and contemporary ideas. He’s weaned on the best cinema of the past. To that knowledge, he brings his own modern sensibilities.”
Manisha says that she enjoyed working with her co-stars Jaideep Ahlawat and Sanjay Kapoor. “I hadn’t worked with Jaideep before. He is so passionate about his work. We had extensive rehearsals before shooting, and that was new to me. Then there’s Sanjay, with whom I worked many many years ago. He’s evolved so much as an actor!”
The actress loves how Dibakar has left their story unfinished. “I am so used to doing films with a formal beginning, a middle and an end. Here, there is no clear resolution to the love-triangle. Such is life. It’s nice to see relationships being treated realistically for a change,” she says.
Having watched the entire film only recently, she’s very impressed by the quality of work being put up by Indian filmmakers. “I not only liked my segment, but also the other three. It is so refreshing to see Karan Johar doing something so out of the box. This is a good time to be an actor in Indian cinema,” she says.