Here’s an honest confession: I watched Jism 2 mostly for Sunny Leone.
Not simply because she’s from the world of adult films, but because she’s a true blue desi porn star. Coming from a conservative culture of mostly white-collar professionals, the daughter of Punjabi Sikh immigrants chose to be an adult film star. And somewhere, as an Indian-American female, I think that’s pretty cool. Another added attraction in Jism 2 is director Pooja Bhatt. The 90s wild child with bikinis and body paint to boot makes for a natural choice to showcase a heroine comfortable with her sexuality (and effectively using it as a tool). The Sunny-Pooja combination had the potential to make a film full of skin and sin, but ultimately about a powerful woman in charge of her destiny. Sadly, it is the woman in this lifeless film who is nothing more than a powerless pawn.
Leone plays sexy siren Izna who meets secret agent Ayaan (Arunoday Singh) in a meaningful one night stand. Soon Ayaan and his boss (Aarif Zakaria), propose a not so impossible task to the irresistible lady. Izna’s mission, if she wishes to accept, is to use her sex appeal to lure tortured soul and suspected terrorist Kabir (Randeep Hooda) into a trap. If Izna can distract Kabir long enough, Ayaan can then get a hold of Kabir’s computer, which holds information on national security. The catch? Kabir happens to be Izna’s ex-lover and the man she hasn’t gotten over.
This thriller had the potential to be done right with none of the awkward kissing and lovemaking scenes in Hindi cinema where the heroine is wrapped in bed sheets like an Egyptian mummy. While there are some erotic moments, the fire is quickly put out by the lack of chemistry between Leone and the male leads. Both Ayaan and Kabir develop an unhealthy obsession for Izna and are willing to kill and be killed, but why?
Rather than cleverly using her sexuality to fulfill her mission, Izna becomes nothing more than a means for the men to quench their sexual thirst. Quite the hunter, Izna initiates the sex but outside the bedroom, the audience watches her pleading and shedding tears in front of males who either bark orders or threaten her life. She is the one who is preyed upon, which is both disappointing and disturbing.
As expected, Leone is in her element during the sex scenes and her body language is very natural. However, when it comes to dialogues and dramatic scenes she’s the exact opposite and ultimately unconvincing. The hunks brought on board fail to impress as their creepy tendencies steal attention away from their brawny physiques.
Randeep Hooda, who is pretty reliable when it comes to delivering a quality performance, goes overboard and turns a melancholy character into a maniac, evoking nothing but confusion from the audience. Arunoday Singh, who brought in the right amount of confidence and sex appeal in Yeh Saali Zindagi, looks lost and adds nothing to the proceedings. Aarif Zakaria’s half-baked character takes more away from the movie than he contributes.
Jism 2 is Pooja Bhatt’s fifth film as a director and though her movies are not big budget, the locales, set direction and costumes generally ensure a polished look. But while the lush locale of Sri Lanka makes for a perfect backdrop for a sensual tale, the audience mostly gets a tour of the resorts in the country. Even Leone’s costumes and hair were not up-to-the mark in several scenes.
The screenplay (written by the director’s father, Mahesh Bhatt) makes no room for character development and uses Urdu poetry to create an illusion of depth. The clunky dialogues are not for characters to express their emotions, but to tell the audience what they should be feeling during a particular scene. Adding to the disappointment, Jism 2 has no scene as bold and full of sexual tension as the one seen in 2002’s Jism, which added heat with a simple blindfold and a glass of ice.
As far the songs go, the Bhatt camp maintains its reputation of making music a big part of their brand. 'Yeh Kasoor' stands out and is beautifully sung by Sonu Kakkar. The picturization of the song is sexy and is one of the few moments in the film that is not awkward. Is it of the same caliber as 'Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai' from Jism? Not quite, but the latter is a paragon of a sensual ballad and difficult to top. Another song made memorable, and for the wrong reasons, is 'Maula.' Perfect for a live performance by singer Ali Azmat, but its picturization is nothing short of hilarious. Watching Hooda playing a cello while mouthing the lyrics makes you wish this song was used in a montage instead to maintain its dignity.
During intermission the trailer for Raaz 3 was shown which marks Bipasha Basu’s return to Vishesh Films. While the trailer highlighted how dull, and dare I say tame, Jism 2 was shaping up to be, it also renewed my appreciation of how incredibly sexy Basu is on screen.
There’s no question that Leone’s beautiful face and lovely figure make her incredibly appealing, but her Izna is nowhere close to Basu’s Sonia in Jism. While her intentions were cruel, Sonia mastered the art of seduction to a point where both the leading man and audience were under her spell. The crackling chemistry between Sonia and John Abraham’s character Kabir, still burns much brighter than what the love triangle in Jism 2 delivered which, sadly, doesn’t provide much competition.