‘Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2’ movie review: Dibakar Banerjee sends a hate mail to the Internet

Scene from ‘LSD 2: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2’

Dibakar Banerjee delves deep into the murky depths of the digital realm, only to surface with a vision that’s bleak and jaded. The film LSD 2, which follows his 2010 breakout hit Love Sex Aur Dhokha, emerges as a perplexing and unsettling letter of contempt towards modern technology and the voyeuristic tendencies it nurtures. Long admired for his sharp-witted cultural critiques, captured in films often bordering on biting humor, here Banerjee seems to express a losing battle with patience, unleashing what appears as a bilious outburst in the form of a film.

The sequel, similar to its predecessor, unfolds through three intertwined narratives, labelled ‘Like’, ‘Share’, and ‘Download’. The opening chapter deals with Noor (played by Paritosh Tiwari), a transgender woman navigating the absurdity of a reality show akin to Bigg Boss. A reunion with Noor’s estranged mother (portrayed by Swaroopa Ghosh) during the season adds a layer of offbeat humor. The next tale tells of Kullu (Bonita Rajpurohit), a transgender janitor coping with the aftermath of sexual violence. We last encounter Shubham (Abhinav Singh), a teenage gamer teetering on the edge of internet fame.

As the film progresses, Banerjee’s stance on modern internet culture crystallizes into a critical overview: he sees it as an abyss of affectation and immediate fulfillment, where individual identities are traded and deified, and people blindly follow unseen digital masters who pull the strings. This scorn spreads in all directions, criticizing selective activism by corporate entities and the unstable economy of content creators that is taking root across India.

In attempting to address extensive issues from transphobia to cyberbullying to the manipulations of big tech, the film sometimes feels chaotic and incomplete. Recalling the impact of Rajkummar Rao’s unforgettable betrayal in the original LSD, this installment offers numerous dramatic possibilities that go largely unexplored.

Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2 (Hindi)

Director: Dibakar Banerjee

Cast: Paritosh Tiwari, Bonita Rajpurohit, Abhinav Singh, Swaroopa Ghosh, Swastika Mukherjee

Run-time: 116 minutes

Storyline: A triad of stories that unravel the complexities of betrayal, identity, and recognition within Indian cyberspace

The original film was pioneering in its use of digital cinematography in India, mimicking the pervasive textures of hand-held cameras, security footage, and spy cams. However, whereas the term ‘found footage’ in cinema implies an element of accidental recovery, LSD 2 treats the internet as a diary left wide open for all to read, occasionally breaking from its found-footage premise entirely for direct human perspectives.

Instead, Tiya Tejpal’s imaginative production design captures the film’s visual essence, with attention to surreal backdrops. One striking scene set in an opulent school is decorated with caricatures of Elon Musk, Milkha Singh, and business mogul Anand Mahindra. Later, a bleak vision within the metaverse unfolds, with bland textures and murky hues of AI-generated art standing in as a metaphor for a uniform society. The young cast leaves a strong impression, particularly Abhinav Singh as the streaming sensation Game Pappi, and Anmol Ahuja’s casting decisions are bitingly ironic, featuring Anu Malik, Tusshar Kapoor, and Sophie Choudry as reality show judges.

In an interview, Banerjee humorously described himself as a mix between a staunch academic and an apocalyptic seer. His movie exudes this grim prophecy and feels like an aggregation of his personal and professional grievances. His prior movie, Tees, which portrayed three generations of an Indian Muslim family, was discarded by Netflix, and he’s currently seeking alternative distributors. At the same time, his peers in the industry have seen their own works halted or completely cancelled, likely due to concerns over content in the current sensitive political atmosphere. Banerjee’s LSD 2 appears to be a vessel for his frustration, with pointed criticism aimed at corporate interests and digital manipulation—a modern tale of caution and disillusion.

Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2 is now showing in theaters.

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