Yeh jism pyaar karna nahin janta, janta hai toh sirf bookh, jism ki bookh. This crackling dialogue was uttered in the original Jism by Bipasha Basu,
wearing a strategically cut white gown. We’ve become blasé about sex in Bollywood, but back then, this felt edgy and dangerous. One year before the game-changing Murder, Jism coloured Bollywood’s traditional, chaste plots, with unapologetic lust.
I thought that Jism 2, which is a sequel only because it also has sex, might push the envelope again. After all, it has a real-life porn star Sunny Leone, playing a porn star Izna. But please push aside all thoughts of Steven Soderbergh‘s The Girlfriend Experience, which has a real-life porn star playing a high-class hooker. Here, Izna’s career choice has no connection with the story, which is, hands down, one of the silliest in recent history. Izna is hired by a secret agency to seduce a killer, who was also her ex-lover, Kabir, played by Randeep Hooda. Her payment to be a honey trap is Rs. 10 crore, and she informs her employers that she travels “only first class”. But somewhere along the way, her agency contact, Ayaan, played by Arunoday Singh, also falls in love with her. So in some scenes Ayaan tells Izna in an urgent voice, “Let’s meet and strategise.” (I laughed out loud). In others, he watches her as she sleeps, running a torchlight over her body
Over the past decade, the Bhatts (Mahesh, who has written this film, Mukesh and Pooja) have become experts at creating low-budget thrillers that have a high sex quotient, melodious songs and often, Emraan Hashmi. Among the three, Pooja has the keenest aesthetics, so no matter how inexpensive her films are, they usually look good. Jism 2 is set in lovely, leafy Sri Lankan locations. The love-making includes white candles, bath tubs and massage oils. Perhaps this is what she means when she says that the film has a feminine gaze.
But neither a feminine nor masculine gaze can combine intense passion with such a ridiculous story. For an erotic film, everyone talks way too much. Of course, we get love-making, Leone’s bare back and ample cleavage. But the Bhatts – Mahesh and Pooja – also want to unveil some deeper truth about men, women and their obsessions with each other. So Jism 2 plays out like an unintentionally funny fever dream. Kabir is a sort of artist-assassin. He plays the cello and sings mournfully. He quotes Faiz to Izna and says lines like, Mausam guzar jaate hain, yaad nahin guzarti. Hooda is a fine actor but here he seems to be emoting for all three of them. Leone, who is very pretty, clearly wasn’t cast for her acting skills, but honestly, she’s not bad. She wisely finds a sort of half-bewildered, half-heavy breathing expression and then stays with it. When the emotion becomes too complex for her to handle, Pooja cuts to the back of her head