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If I had done Lust Stories earlier I could have been condemned: Manisha Koirala

In a chat with us, the actress spoke about collaborating with Dibakar Banerjee on the Netflix anthology film, Lust Stories, and how it is proof of the change in the status of women in cinema. 

Suparna Thombare

Even as the release date of her next film, Sanju (2018), where she is portraying the role of Nargis Dutt, is approaching, actress Manisha Koirala is really excited about the response she has received for her performance in the Netflix original, Lust Stories.  

In the short directed by Dibakar Banerjee, Koirala plays the strong-willed Reena, who wants to address her dysfunctional marriage and come out with the secret of an extra-marital affair to her husband. The story follows three characters through one night at a beach house even as the tension and awkwardness grows between them.

Koirala feels that she could have been judged for playing a role like Reena back in the 1990s, especially since she portrays a woman who is ready to accept the consequences of her affair, when the men around her are still beating around the bush.

It should be noted that the actress had found herself in the middle of a controversy back in 2002 with Ek Choti Si Love Story, which was a 15-year-old's voyeuristic love and sexual attraction to his neighbour, played by Koirala. The same film, would be viewed very differently if it is made today.

The 47-year-old actress believes that actresses are now getting appreciated for playing flawed, yet powerful characters like the one in Lust Stories, which wasn't the case when she was at her peak.

"This is the best thing in today's times. That women have started speaking their mind, asserting and men have accepted that. And they are appreciative. It is a great aspect of today's times. I love this. If I had done Lust Stories earlier I could have been condemned. But today I am appreciated. I feel it has a lot to do with the younger generation. With women from the younger generation standing up for themselves and men supporting them," she says.

The actress, who has received praise from critics and audiences, for her nuanced portrayal in the short, says that she had a great time collaborating with a "new age intellectual director" like Banerjee.

"We did workshops. Dibakar is a new age intellectual director. And he is very well-versed with cinema and he knows his medium too well. So he would be confident enough to explore and to come on set without a bound script. It was like 'okay, let's do this and let's do that'. He clearly told me that 'Manisha this is the film where I can experiment because there is no baggage of huge money coming into the project. It’s a low budget and we directors are experimenting with the style and the narrative, with the story and everything. So you actors also get to experiment'. I said 'absolutely'" she exclaimed.

The best part, she feels was the freedom to improvise. "We had lots of conversations and we had debates. I didn’t agree with Reena’s character in some places. But it was always open discussion. And we did workshops and rehearsals. We read the scenes before going on the sets. But on the spot we would change a lot of things. We improvised a lot. I enjoy working with people who have the guts to improvise, are not bound artistically, and you can explore."