it means “body” in Hindi, but c’mon. It’s
not like they don’t understand the possible English meanings in Bollywood. Factor in the “mainstream” Bollywood debut of
western porn star Sunny Leone and you’ve got the perfect storm of
exploitation. However, nothing is
perfect in Pooja Bhatt’s utterly tame J2
(as we shall call it) that nevertheless should not be allowed to ignominiously slink
out of theaters unremarked upon (disappointingly safe for work trailer
me, where to start. Perhaps with the
plot that can be rather easily dispatched with.
Sunny Leone plays Izna, a porn star (shockingly), who is recruited by a
double secret counter-terror agency to lure the dreaded assassin Kabir into a
trap. She had a steamy relationship with
Kabir back when he was a crusading cop, but he threw her over when he defected
to the dark side. Needless to say, their
feelings for each other remain unresolved.
Simultaneously, Izna’s handler, the tightly wound Aayan Thakur, falls
for her hard. Thus begins a love
triangle that endlessly repeats itself, like a turntable needle skipping on a
though she is playing a porn star, Leone is not very convincing as Izna. Perhaps she was confused by how early all the
love scenes ended. It is not like she
isn’t trying. When called on to act
scared, she shivers like she has hypothermia.
Maybe Bhatt had her stand in a walk-in freezer before filming big
dramatic sequences. Okay, so she’s not
great, but she knows how to jut.
the real embarrassment in J2 is
Arunoday Singh’s ridiculously over the top turn as Thakur. It may well be the most overwrought, awkward
screen performance of the post-Ed Wood era.
While he torpedoes his dignity, somehow Randeep Hooda manages to keep
his intact as Kabir. It helps to have
that piercing psychopathic stare to fall back on. It means he can shut the heck up for a while.
J2 commits many
cinematic sins, but over economizing is not one of them. At one hundred thirty minutes, it will tax
the indulgence of those who ordinarily dig on bad movies. Clearly no expense was spared on lush sets,
exotic locations, and curve hugging costumes.
However, about twelve cents were spent on script development, relying
instead on some of the most shopworn clichés.
The pacing is rather poky, but cinematographer Nigam Bomzan seems hell-bent
on recreating the vibe of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” video.
dirty little secret of J2 is that it
is not that dirty at all. Keep in mind, India
has a strict censorship board. Had it
been submitted for a rating here, it might have earned an R, but would have had
a puncher’s chance at a PG-13. That is
all well and good for us, but it is profoundly unsatisfying for the film’s
target market. Sorry dudes.
is not like there is much to miss out on here.
Yet, like a clumsy child, it is hard to judge J2 harshly. The plain truth
is it was just made by people who have no business being on either side of a (mainstream)
camera. Those who know their Bollywood
will not be surprised. The J franchise was written by Bhatt’s
father Mahesh, who has a rather sensationalistic rep he has apparently passed along
to his daughter. In case you were
worried about not having seen the first installment (wisely re-titled Body for its American DVD release) the
films are only thematically related and stand alone, such as they are. Evidently, the Bhatts figured why let
deceptively racy title go to waste. Not
really recommended, but for those who want the weird bragging rights of seeing
it in a real honest to gosh theater, J2 plays
through Thursday (8/9) at the AMC Empire in New York, after which time they
will presumably bounce it out of there, post-haste.
Labels: Bollywood, Naughty films, Pooja Bhatt, Sunny Leone