First of all, lets address the sex. It has been even labeled as a B-grade porn. There are just three sex scenes. Two of which are absolutely necessary, one was the director's choice. And none of the scenes have nudity. There is just moaning. What kind of porn do these people watch? Maybe leaked scandals of poor quality.
One of the stories is about a Muslim girl from a conservative family. Her navigation of teenage life is explored through nuanced scenes, judgmental glances from her father while she is dancing in an event for celebration, bursting into a monologue as in a movie but feeling awkward afterward, smoking and drinking and kissing a guy to fit in. A brilliant performance and background scores explain how she gets money for her outfits and makeups. And NO the director is not advocating drinking, smoking or having sexual intercourse through her, it is about how teenagers try to fit into a group of cool guys. In fact, the director establishes consequences, one of the characters in her plotline gets pregnant through unsafe sex and the main character is almost arrested for participating in a frenzy protest.
The second plot line is on a housewife of another conservative family. There are two sex scenes in her plot line. The first one displays her empty expression while having coitus to indicate that her husband thinks a sexual intercourse is for his entertainment and there is nothing for her in it. The second scene displays how easy and accepted spousal rape is in India. I have no idea how to incorporate these ideas into a film without 'cheap sex scenes', which by the way have neither nudity nor moaning. Her husband's affair shows that though male chauvinist wants idealism in his spouse, he himself is flawed. Similarly, a father fuming at the careless children, thinking responsibilities of children are wife's duty alone and assuming the role of a breadwinner while spending rest of the time in front of television or with colleagues is accepted norm. These subtleties are incorporated to criticize patriarchal society without uttering a single word about them.
In other two plot lines women's sexuality and desire are examined. It exhibits the expectation of compliance and passivity from an aged woman in our society. They are expected to live a recluse life, chanting hymns and suppressing any desire of being wanted, exploring life or being adventurous. Even enthusiastic exploration of sexual desire by young women is seen as derogatory action by her own partner who participates in the same activity as her. There is a sex scene with moaning, which could have been omitted without changing the plot but screw the conservatives, that scene was bold and beautiful and vocal. I loved that scene was there.
This film breaks the cliché of advocating through monologues, moral stories or director directly mentioning what she (Yeap! A she! Very fitting) wants her audience to think. This movie is 'Show, don't tell'. It is just a collection of experiences and I would have completely believed a disclaimer of 'based on true events'. Despite the lack of speech, it is clearly a feminist movie, a proponent of women's right. Through the nuanced scenes and acting viewers can perceive and sense that the characters are in pain and have a desire to change that. Moviegoers can live vicariously and empathize the characters. It is one of the best movies Bollywood has produced.
Having mentioned all that, this movie has disappointments. Specially in their male characters. They are one dimensional cliched narrative. This could have been a directorial choice to highlight the only women characters but I still think that some depth should have been given to them.
PS: About rating, I don't rate movie's quality. It is a subjective experience. Rating is rather about recommendation. A '10' is totally worth spending time. A '7', is good! well if you have time to kill, then you can watch it.
Verdict: This movie is a decent effort and not a cheap stunt. You can disagree with the plots or characters or directional choice but you must watch it.