Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: Outright Stumper Of A Film Embraces Its Campy, Pulpy Spirit

Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: The great thing about a Dibakar Banerjee film is that it never fails to spring surprises. LSD 2 has more than its share of fearless flights of fancy.

Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: Outright Stumper Of A Film Embraces Its Campy, Pulpy Spirit

A still from LSD 2.

There is a dichotomy in Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 that makes itself instantly apparent. The film probes the not-so-secret virtual lives of a generation of youngsters with severely limited attention spans even as it demands complete focus on its bewilderingly whimsical flow of images and sounds. You take your eyes off the screen or let your mind wander for a split second and you are at risk of missing a crucial piece of information or a prickly flash of an image that is meant to speaks volumes. With its constant zaniness and unpredictability, the film's rhythm reflects the untamable impatience of technology-obsessed, instant fame-seeking influencers and YouTubers who inhabit a world of their own for better or for worse.

LSD 2 reveals the many ways in which violence, physical and psychological, is perpetrated on those who exist within the heady bubble and also on those who live outside it. This outright stumper of a film embraces its campy, pulpy spirit with all its might as it satirizes society that is led by technology in directions that it cannot fully grasp, not as yet at nay rate. By the time LSD 3 happens, we will probably know better.

For the moment, LSD 2 raises questions, some playful, others pointed, even profound, about a world in which fake, nearly always, trumps fact. There is a heavy price to be paid for the surrender to the lure of constantly evolving technology, as the three principal characters in the film discover mostly at their own expense.

Written by director and co-producer Dibakar Banerjee with Prateek Vats and Shubham (the writers of Eeb Allay Ooo!), the Ekta Kapoor-produced LSD 2 repeats the three-part interlinked structure of LSD, which was made nearly a decade and a half ago and addressed the impact of recording devices that impinged on people's privacy and endangered their lives and mental well-being.

In the 14 years that have elapsed between the two films, both the hardware and the software have evolved to a point where the line between the real and the virtual, and the tangible and the deepfake, can be erased at the push of a button.

Gen Z appears to thrive on leading double lives but, as a result of the vanishing margins between the imagined and the factual, many are increasingly falling prey to manipulation and the danger of self-harm. That is the principal thematic burden of LSD 2 although it isn't in the least interested in telling the audience what to make of the plight of the people it is about.

Exploring gender fluidity in a manner that isn't remotely self-conscious, LSD 2 replaces the subheads of Love, Sex and Dhokha with Like, Share and Download. Each segment portrays the struggles of individuals trying to leap out of the boxes that a myopic society shoves them into, then slams the lid shut and keeps strict vigil on them.

In the first segment, a transwoman, Noor (Paritosh Tiwari), who aspires to be an acclaimed actress, is a participant in a garish reality show - it is called Truth Ya Naach. It requires her to put her life under the public spotlight. Noor goes on and off camera with an eye on higher ratings as her rivals snap at her heels and keep her on her toes.

The producers of the show - in the judges' seats are Sophie Chaudhry, Tusshar Kapoor and Anu Malik (the only one of the three who does not play himself) - manipulate her into a reunion with her estranged mother (Swaroopa Ghosh). The mother's first reaction on seeing Noor after a two-year hiatus is "dublaa ho gaya hai". She is still averse to accepting her altered sexual identity.

Anu Malik's character throws a fit when the mother croons and the daughter dances to the song. Ordering the duo to stop, he thunders: "Maa se badhkar kuch nahin hain". He follows that up with a mushy ode to motherhood. It is apparent that his outburst is scripted. The ratings go through the roof and it is revealed that this bit of the show has been sponsored "Maa Ki Mamta Aata (Mother's Love Flour).

With the ratings and the truth meter - a method to measure the veracity of statements that the participants make on the show - yo-yo-ing wildly, Noor is under constant pressure to 'perform' her transition for the consumption of the audience.

Her process of gender assertion is reduced to a game controlled by the producers of the show, the sponsors, the public at large and, last but not the least, the anti-vulgarity clause in the rules that govern broadcasting. Technology and a society that is in voyeuristic mode 24/7, personal desire has been snatched away by the collective will of those whose ''likes" can make or break the show.

The next part of LSD 2, too, has a third-gender character, Kulu (Bonita Rajpurohit), struggling with the consequences of being who she is. She is strapped for cash and unapologetic about using her body to earn her a few rupees more.

Kulu works on the cleaning team at a Metro Rail station in Delhi. Her boss, Lovina Singh (Swastika Mukherjee), single mother of a school-going boy (who turns out to be the link between this story and the next), feigns sympathy for her employee when she gets into serious trouble and is in danger of losing her job.

Under mounting pressure from the head honcho, Lovina does her best to control the damage that the negative publicity for her company - which seeks mileage out of giving employment to transgenders - but with every move that she makes she only succeeds in exposing her own and her firm's double standards.

It isn't only in the virtual world that things are phony. In fact, if things are fake in the images and claims that float around in a hyper-connected universe, they are only a reflection of all the pretence that is constantly sought to be passed off as fact.

That is exactly what 18-year-old school boy Shubham Narang (Abhinav Singh), Game Paapi in the virtual world, does in his avatar as a hyper-masculine dude. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and metaverses have flip sides that extract a high price from those who play along and lose themselves in the dead-end algorithm-driven labyrinths.

The great thing about a Dibakar Banerjee film is that it never fails to spring surprises. LSD 2 has more than its share of fearless flights of fancy. Some land, some don't. But that takes little away. Even when it tends to be baffling, the film makes you think.

If that is the kind of cinema that excites you, LSD 2 might be well worth your time.


Swastika Mukherjee, Swaroopa Ghosh, Paritosh Tiwari, Bonita Rajpurohit and Mouni Roy


Dibakar Banerjee