Love Is Lot More Discussed Than Lust: Konkona Sensharma On Female Desire

In a conversation with SheThePeople Konkona Sensharma discusses directing Tillotama Shome and Amruta Subhash in Lust Stories 2, the depiction of female desire on-screen and much more

Ragini Daliya
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Lust stories 2 interview

Image from Instagram (@konkanasensharma)

When Netflix Original anthology Lust Stories was released in 2018, it pushed people out of their comfort zones and threw a spotlight on desire. Comprised of four shorts, the films were subtle riffs on the theme of lust, but never raunchy. It had vibrators, discrete lovers, possessive female stalkers but, above all, the triumphing theme of female desire while attempting to cut through the jackets of morality, patriarchy and class. 

Earlier this month, the trailer of Lust Stories 2 was released and akin to its predecessor teased to reveal the playful, quirky tales, all centring around the comic implications of sex. This time around, it features shorts by four directors Konkona Sensharma, R Balki, Sujoy Ghosh and Amit Ravindernath Sharma.

Lust Stories 2 interview

Initially sceptical to take up the project, Konkona Sensharma believes love is often discussed much more than lust. "Love is just a lot more attachment and caring, lust is free of that. There are so many different ways to express lust out of which very few are acceptable in society and public, so it is quite unexplored in that sense," the director said in an interview with SheThePeople.

Sensharma’s segment features Isheeta (Tillotama Shome) returning home earlier than usual from work one afternoon because of a migraine attack only to find her house help Seema (Amruta Subhash) making love to a man – on her bed. Isheeta realises that this is routine, but instead of confronting Seema, she finds herself drawn to the voyeuristic pleasure of watching them.

"The intention was never to make the viewer feel lusty, was never to titillate or to sexually arouse the viewer. We just wanted to take them through the journey of desire, with what are these two characters going through. One hopes that intent comes through and not arousal," said Sensharma who admits a lot happens during a sexual interaction which is still unexplored like the aspects of greed, revenge, and loneliness. 

Lust stories


Amruta Subhash, on the other hand, believes humans are animals to begin with and lust takes us closer to that animosity that we all have inside. The actor who had to portray several intimate scenes in the film is immensely grateful to her director (Sensharma) for helping her get rid of any inhibitions. 

"I asked Koko for a day, a day where we can work and improvise on those scenes, and that was a very important day. I really wanted that one day to come out of my inhibitions. I was very comfortable with Koko, and I knew I was in safe hands with her in the director's seat," added Subash, who earlier portrayed the role of a sex worker in Alankrita Shrivastava's Bombay Begums.

Sensharma returns to the director's seat after a gap of seven years. Her last directorial A Death In The Gunj was a story about a death, family, road trip and kindness. While a lot has changed over the years, our cinema still panders to the male gaze even when it comes to female-driven storylines. 

"We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. But I think, statistically too, we need to be at some kind of par. For instance, there needs to be enough female filmmakers, technicians, and writers with no wage gap. It needs to happen. Is it slightly better than before? Probably. But I think the most important thing is that it should not be labelled as in 'female-centric film' or come with any monikers. The most important thing is they need to make money because until female-led films make money, the change is not going to really translate," said Sensharma. 

Lust stories

Shome said, "I think we have a long way to go. It's nice that we have platforms like SheThePeople but we still have to discuss this even after so many years. It means we have a long long way to go but it is important for women to be in positions of power because the optics of that can be very inspiring to people who are first-generation professionals in their family or first in their family to do something or be in the position of power. For them to even dream or think of that as a possibility, it is important. But we are far away from it."  

Subhash, who started her career with Late filmmaker writer Sumitra Bhave, said while she is fortunate to have worked with so many women directors like Zoya Akhtar, Ruchika Oberoi, Alankrita Shrivastava, Anjali Menon and now Konkona, we all collectively still have a long way to go. 


To end the discussion on a lighter note, we asked the trio about their favourite work which depicted female desire. 

Amruta – It is Kate Winslet's The Reader for me. But honestly, lust entered my life when I was in my teens and it was through a book Lady Chatterley's Lover. 

Shome - I think I really enjoy watching Piano Teacher. It's nice when desire is represented in a way that makes you crawl under your skin, makes you uncomfortable and I think these things happen only when you shift the gaze. In Koko’s film, I felt there was something quite inscrutable and inexplicable happening, it was as if she was not looking at us but looking with us. I think that shift made the examination of desire so rich.

Shome, on the other hand, also thinks when certain words get used more, other words just die, and lust is one of those words. The word love is more acceptable, lust is not. It comes with something that is forbidden and needs to be hidden. 

"Some words are bichare like that. They carry the human baggage," concluded Shome with a laugh.

Suggested Reading: Tillotama Shome Reveals Why Sir's Unconventional Ending Is A 'Happy' One

Tillotama Shome Amruta Subhash Lust Stories 2 Konkana Sensharma