Movie review

‘Lust Stories’ review: Lots of talk and some show

Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar explore modern relationships and sexual desire in the Netflix film.

In 2013, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar each contributed a chapter to the anthology film Bombay Talkies, which celebrated the centenary of Indian cinema. Bombay Talkies was a mixed bag, as such projects tend to be, with the strongest contribution coming from Banerjee. Johar’s gay-themed chapter emerged as the surprise package.

The four directors have reunited for another bash at discrete narratives woven around a common motif. Sexual desire and its boring cousin, monogamous love, are among the big themes of Lust Stories. The film was premiered on Netflix on June 15. Although the liberation from censorship that the streaming platform offers does result in moments not usually permitted on the big screen – the creaking of bedsprings, pleasuring the self – Lust Stories is mostly decorous and quite safe for the workplace.

There is some lust, but also plenty of caution. The Netflix film has the disadvantage of being streamed in the aftermath of such productions as Lipstick Under My Burkha and Veere Di Wedding, which are far more uninhibited in their exploration of sexual desire. The erotic quotient is dialled down in all but one of the stories, suggesting an approach that is both grown-up as well as restrained by Indian morality.

Akash Thosar and Radhika Apte in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.
Akash Thosar and Radhika Apte in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.

The first chapter, directed by Anurag Kashyap and starring Radhika Apte and Akash Thosar, offers an indication of the anxieties and limitations involved in the pursuit of a life guided by bodily passion. It opens with Radhika Apte’s ecstatic face poking out of a taxi window, taking in the air and contemplating the thrill of hooking up with her attractive student, Tejas (Akash Thosar).

Like other opening images in Lust Stories, this one proves to be deceptive. Apte’s Kalindi, a married college professor, seems unprepared for the rush of emotions that crowd her head and heart. Tejas is 21, and Kalindi, going by her behaviour, seems to be only a few months older.

The power dynamic that makes such relationships illicit is alluded to, but the problems Kalini faces are older than the questions raised by the global movement against institutionalised sexual violence: Is Tejas faithful? Is he also sleeping with a classmate? Does he actually love Kalindi at all?

Kalindi’s jangling nerves and obsessive behaviour, which are met with Tejas’s very relatable calm, have their comic moments. Apte is superb as the on-the-verge Kalindi, whose eyes have a touch of mania to them and whose contradictory monologues on relationships, addressed to no one in particular, indicate that the bohemian life isn’t for everybody. The narrative is as shambolic as Kalindi, but the performances by Apte and Thosar, the talented actor from Sairat, rescue the story from wandering off.

Calm returns with the following film, by Zoya Akhtar. Bhumi Pednekar plays Sudha, a maid in a sexual relationship with her employer Ajit (Neil Bhoopalam). The bedroom bliss evaporates when Ajit’s parents drop in with a marriage proposal. Should Sudha blow the whistle, or quietly serve tea and snacks to Ajit’s prospective wife and in-laws?

The story is underdeveloped and a bit too rushed, and the class divide between Sudha and her employers isn’t as thoroughly excavated as it needed to have been. Yet, Akhtar creates a suitable hothouse atmosphere in the apartment where Sudha once dreamt of being on an equal footing with the man to whom she has given her body.

Bhumi Pednekar in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.
Bhumi Pednekar in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.

Dibakar Banerjee’s story opens, once again, on a striking visual – Manisha Koirala, older, her worry lines pronounced and her cheeks sagging but still lovely – prancing in the sea in a swimsuit.

Koirala is Reena, a bank employee who is cheating on her money-minded husband Salman (Sanjay Kapoor) with his best friend Sudhir (Jaideep Ahlawat). A piquant love triangle ensues, one that involves Reena’s place in the bond between Salman and Sudhir that is older than her marriage.

This chapter is less successful than Akhtar’s film in making the most of its mostly interior setting. The jumpy editing is a distraction from the story’s real strength: its writing and performances. Like with the rest of Lust Stories, the actors revel in the opportunity to portrays characters that are usually not available to them in mainstream productions. Jaideep Ahlawat is typically solid as the lover, while Sanjay Kapoor is a surprise as the self-centred but also wise Salman. The narrative adds interesting layers as it proceeds, and allows Reena the honour of delivering the coup de grace.

Jaideep Ahlawat and Manisha Koirala in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.
Jaideep Ahlawat and Manisha Koirala in Lust Stories. Image credit: Netflix.

Why so serious – and squeamish – about the messiness often caused by sexual encounters? It is left to Karan Johar to introduce some much-needed wickedness and fulfill the promise of erotic frisson promised by the title. Johar’s segment has some talk but also some show. Rekha (Neha Dhupia), the voluptuous librarian at the all-girls school where Megha (Kiara Advani) teaches, offers the younger woman life-altering advice: cleavage is meant to be exhibited, not hidden.

Perhaps it is the twin peaks peeking out of Megha’s too-small blouse that floors future spouse Paras (Vicky Kaushal). Or not. Paras turns out to be the average Indian husband – loving, good-natured, one to grow old with, and utterly hopeless in the bedroom. Vicky Kaushal does a fabulous job of portraying the genial but witless Paras, who is so blinkered that he forgets that his knockout wife with the perfectly arched eyebrows and descending hair has expectations too.

Not for nothing is the librarian named after one of Indian cinema’s most sultry stars. Rekha shows Megha the way, bringing this lust story to a fitting, if predictable, ending.

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Lust Stories.
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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

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The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.