The film that has attracted much controversy in India is finally unveiled. The sequel to Jism (2003), Jism 2 is an erotic thriller directed by Pooja Bhatt. Sunny Leone, the Indo Canadian porn star, makes her Bollywood debut in the story that also features Randeep Hooda and Arunoday Singh. The film begins with a Biblical quote: ‘The life of man upon Earth is warfare.’ As the film unravels, this quote is reflected through the characters journey as well as being a concept running parallel in the film. Izna (Sunny Leone), Ayaan (Arunoday Singh) and Kabir (Randeep Hooda) all find themselves fighting with their inner turmoil. Jism 2 is a story about the hazy line between love and lust and the conflict between duty and personal desire.
Izna, the porn star and Ayaan, the intelligence officer have their first meeting at a party. Ayaan and Izna are soon sharing a bed and getting intimate. It is soon the morning after and Ayaan gets down to the real business. Ayaan introduces himself as an intelligence officer and proposes a mission to Izna, somewhat patronizingly stating that it is her chance to ‘help the country’. The reluctant Izna sarcastically remarks that she is already helping the country by taking her clothes off. However, Ayaan succeeds in persuading Izna to come onboard. The mission handed to Izna is to help the officers retrieve data that is being held by the notorious Kabir (Randeep Hooda). Kabir who was a commendable ex-officer has now turned into a killing machine-an insane assassin. Izna is to be the honey trap and has the advantage of getting up close and personal, the perfect distraction. The dilemma for Izna is that Kabir is an ex-lover who still has a pull on her heart strings. She initially refuses the mission point blank claiming that it is too personal and painful, but Ayaan charms Izna into agreeing. Ayaan and Izna go undercover and the mission begins. What follows is a guessing game of who can be trusted and what turn destiny will take. Ayaan has fallen head over heels for Izna. Kabir is still in love with Izna. The question is but who is it that Izna truly loves? Is it Ayaan or is it Kabir? It seems that Izna herself does not know.
At the opening credits I did feel a sting of disappointment. I found myself asking…is Jism 2 just going to be a sexed up film for the sake of living up to its reputation as an erotic thriller? I was not kept disappointed. The opening scene is oozing with lust, but it is not long before emotions take the driving seat. There are certainly some daringly intimate scenes but it is important to clarify that Jism 2 is not a porn film. The intimate scenes have a dignity about them once we move on from the opening credits. There is a pattern of intimate scenes predominantly being infused within a song. With the beautiful lyrics, it is impossible to miss the point of the sexual scenes being an extension of passion and emotion rather than just sex appeal for the film.
A strong point of the film is definitely its mesmerising soundtrack. Each song is a very important clue to how the character is feeling. ‘Yeh Kasoor’ and ‘Maula’ are the songs that stuck out for me. The stunning scenery of ‘Yeh Kasoor’ takes your breath away and the chemistry between Izna and Kabir is exhilarating. ‘Maula’ is Kabir’s song and is symbolic to his pain, loss and grief. The cello in ‘Maula’ builds on the haunting atmosphere and it is through this song that Kabir exposes himself as a vulnerable and lost man to the audience.
What Bhatt is good at in the film is building a rapport between the audience and the character. This is done not only through the songs, but how the film has been shot. For instance at one point, Bhatt makes the viewer feel Izna’s anticipation by leading the viewer to Kabir with Izna’s shaky steps. The viewer can feel Izna’s anticipation as she approaches Kabir by the camera being shot through her eyes.
Sunny Leone has pleasantly surprised with her acting skills. She is definitely not just a pretty face. The emotion she brings out in Izna’s eyes and her voice are vital to Izna’s character and her conflict of whom she should love and be loyal to. Arunoday Singh does not flourish until after the interval. The jealousy within Ayaan is apparent from the very start who raises an eyebrow at Izna’s role in the mission. Singh has portrayed the character of Ayaan with precision. The hurt, guilt and jealousy are all made clear through his body language and his facial expressions. The hats have to go off to Randeep Hooda who steals the show. The character of Kabir is performed with intensity. Kabir is lost, torn between love as a selfish, individualistic desire and what he feels is his duty to mankind.
Despite it being shot beautifully with stunning views of Sri Lanka, Jism 2 does stretch on and begins to feel too long. Both the story and the fight sequences feel clichéd and there isn’t anything about the story that leaves you surprised. Somewhere along the script, the viewer finds themselves becoming impatient with Izna to decide on her choice and to stick to it. The conclusion of the film has one wringing their hands and feeling glad that some resolution has been sought. You may feel slightly disappointed with the film due to the slowly unravelling plot, but the cinematography, strong performances and soundtrack save the day. Jism 2 is definitely worth a watch but make sure you do this on the big screen to appreciate the stunning visuals. The most captivating moments that have you holding your breath are those of intense emotion between Izna and the two suitors. Is Jism 2 an erotic thriller or a beautiful love story? For me, it is both of these entwined.