I finally understand what the sexual frustration of the Indian male looks like. It looks like a stuffy run-down movie theatre in Bongaigaon, Assam and some 200 hollering men watching Jism 2. Jism 2 is worse than a tease. It’s a tease wanna-be.
The movie was apparently sold out. That wasn’t too surprising. Mayapuri is the only theatre in Bongaigaon. Jism 2 is the only movie playing in it. There was no sign that said that it was sold out. But the ticket counter was closed. And the only people selling any tickets were a bunch of blackmarketeers.
There was something pre-INOX nostalgic about the whole experience from the multicoloured tickets (pink for Dress Circle, Blue for balcony) down to the little packages of generic popcorn – no options for caramel or cheese. The ceiling fans whirred lazily overhead making scarcely any difference to the heat. The ushers were in their banians. My blackmarket ticket had a view that was partially obstructed by a column, obviously a mark of my inexperience in these matters. But luckily, my seat listed to one side anyway.
The audience for porn star Sunny Leone’s Bollywood debut was almost 99 percent male. There was just one family with what looked like a six-year-old daughter in the row behind me. There was a married couple next to me, obviously on a date night, firmly holding each other’s hands, though I don’t know whether it was spurred by romance or sheer terror triggered by the waves of pure testosterone ricocheting off the peeling walls of Mayapuri movie theatre.
Once the lights went down the entire audience shrieked as one. There was none of the usual nonsense of little sermonizing documentaries about HIV/AIDS and traffic safety nor the uber-annoying Vicco Vajradanti ads. So far so good. We went right to the real stuff.
Sunny Leone emerged from some body of water and the theatre erupted into wolf whistles, seat thumping and cheers exhorting her to take off what little she wore. Meanwhile, streams of men were still coming into the theatre, fumbling their way to their seats with the help of the lights on their mobile phones. Their intrusion caused the amp-ed up audience to curse and holler louder at this unwelcome obstruction of their view. Four men holding onto each other’s hands struggled their way to the end of the row, only to find someone squatting on two of their seats. Everyone fought for awhile. People around them asked them to shut up. The banian-ed ticket checker finally brought out a couple of extra chairs and put them in the aisle.
We were now well into ten minutes of the film. And other than looking at what resembled a splendid infomercial for some lovely tropical-looking hotel in Sri Lanka, I had not been able to hear one snatch of dialogue. Everything was drowned by the audience lustily appreciating every bit of Sunny Leone from her red dress to her cleavage to the love letter she writes in her own blood. When Randeep Hooda showed up in a towel and languorously embraced Sunny someone shouted, “Pet bhorey nai (My stomach is not full yet).”
But I soon realised that this film will not fill anyone’s stomach. This erotic thriller is low on both eroticism and thrills. Jism 2 just teases the audience into waiting for sex scenes that never arrive, torturing them instead with an inane plot where everyone is chasing a disk that contains some data that we are supposed to care about.
Bhatt obviously wanted to make some kind of girl power statement here. So Sunny gets to proposition the man, flip flop between two of them and say things like “I need a drink”. The men, on the other hand, are of the sensitive brute variety. Their breasts heave far often than Sunny’s. Randeep Hooda’s soulful Urduized dialogue delivered in a bedroom voice makes him sound like Mirza Ghalib on serious medication. And Sunny’s other squeeze, Arunoday Singh, has impressive muscles but spends most of his time pouting dramatically, sometimes facing a corner, sometimes bleeding on a beach, sometimes crumpled artistically on the floor.
But if anybody has been tricked into Sunny’s “honey-trap” it isn’t Hooda but the audience. They came in good faith looking for a good time. And Jism 2 just gave them two-plus hours of airbrushed frustration. In the age of readily available Internet porn, Jism 2 lives down to its own dialogue – har jism ka expiry date hota hai. This one is long past its expiry date. The audience boos lustily when finally a love making scene interrupted the story only to quickly fade to black. When an erotic thriller skimps on the sex, that’s just wrong.
Guardians of public morality have been suing to stop the screening of Jism 2 on the grounds of public decency. I say we should ban it because it does something worse. It makes fools of all us by pretending to treat us as adults.
Two hundred frustrated men poured out into the dark night of Bongaigaon after Jism 2. If that’s a scene repeating across a thousand small towns in India, God help us all.