Mumbai: The trolls have had a gala time going after Swara Bhasker for her masturbation scene in Veere Di Wedding. Karan Johar's short film in the Netflix original Lust Stories has a similar scene. In an interview with NDTV.com, Karan spoke about the good that comes out of a risk-taking scene or a rule-breaking film, and how it has started a debate and people who thought that the concept of masturbation was blasphemous are talking about it.
- We are talking about this in an open forum suddenly: Karan Johar
- "The scene in VDW has opened up a forum of conversation," he added
- Karan Johar's Lust Stories streams on Netflix from this week
Q: After Bombay Talkies (2013), how did the concept of Lust Stories come around and how does a project like this take shape?
Karan Johar: "It worked out just like Bombay Talkies. It's Ashi Dua's concept, she came to us with the idea, and we got on board. The budget remained the same. We all stuck to the budget - that's an unsaid rule. We are given an amount to make this film. I also stuck to the budget like a good student. We were thinking of various themes to integrate into four stories and give it to the common theme. We came down to Love & Lust, which then further came down to Lust Stories. Each story has an interpretation of lust. We just thought it should be four different voices but one collaborative emotion."
Q: The debate over Swara Bhasker's masturbation scene from Veere Di Wedding has not stopped, and your short film in Lust Stories has a similar scene. What kind of reactions are you expecting?
Karan Johar: "I think a conversation is always great. There was a lot of criticism we got for Dostana because of the stereotypical nature of certain representations and I do believe that a lot of criticism was justified. There was a certain kind of representation that was typical. But the fact is that it started a conversation, the issue became dining table conversation in parts of the country that are unaware of the concept of homosexuality. It was a conversation starter. Similarly, the much talked about masturbation scene in VDW has opened up a forum of conversation. There are all kinds, of course, like trolls, bad, ridiculous views, and some completely regressive perspectives but the fact is that suddenly we are talking about masturbation and let's say that that's a great thing. So for people out there who feel the concept only is blasphemous now are suddenly talking about it through a mainstream film. More power to those girls who accepted these roles and more power to the filmmaker who made this film. We are talking about this in an open forum suddenly."
Q: What's your expectation from Lust Stories?
Karan Johar: "We didn't do this to sensationalise, that was not the idea. There is a lot of care in the way sensitivities are protected, and the sensibilities are all there. We are not trying to be sensational for the sake of it. There is no out there scene of nudity or profanity. Whatever is there is there for a reason and purpose, and all we expect is a viewership, we seek eyeballs and a lot of love for our lust."
Q: Do you read all the blogs and tweets and everything that's written on the internet about things like these?
Karan Johar: "I read everything. I stick to what I said, at least people are talking about it."
Q: What's different when you are working on a film that will stream only on the web and not in a cinema?
Karan Johar: "We all watch web shows, and we are all engaged in web series that are made across the world, but this was a different experience because this is a short film for us. Writing a short is empowering in so many ways. I haven't cracked the code; I approach my short film as a feature. I have got the syntax of the writing a feature film which has a beginning and interval and an end. My biggest limitation for a short film writer is that I haven't been able to crack that."
Q: Is the pressure less because it's on the web?
Karan Johar: "We are always under pressure. Yes, for a film it's different. It's stressful. There is money from the market, then add to that marketing and publicity money. You are always thinking that people should not lose money. The thought that how many people will come is always on your mind. What will be the weekend numbers? Will they go up on Saturday and again on Monday? These are traumatic emotions we go through. For someone of us who are connected to the box-office DNA, it's even more traumatizing. I am too aware. Thankfully here we had had very limited budgets. Isn't it sad that I get so much money for love and so little for lust?"
Q: All the four films in Lust Stories have a female protagonist, was that a part of the brief?
Karan Johar: "No! That was not a diktat at all. It just worked out this way naturally. Even we found this out later about each other's films."
Q: At what point do all four directors watch each other's films?
Karan Johar: "That's the fun part. We make our films then one day we go to Zoya's house and sit on her sofa and watch all four movies back to back. She feeds us kababs, and we chat about each film. My heart is in my mouth because you are seeking validation of the contemporaries who you love and respect. And when you are there, you just hope that you are a correct part of the narrative."
Lust Stories streams on Netflix on June 15.