Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: A Chaotic, Unforgiving Satire on the Indian Internet

Director Dibakar Banerjee teams up with the writers of Eeb Allay Ooo! for a series of shrewd but uneven vignettes.
Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: A Chaotic, Unforgiving Satire on the Indian Internet
Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 Review: A Chaotic, Unforgiving Satire on the Indian Internet

Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Writers: Shubham, Prateek Vats, Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Paritosh Tiwari, Bonita Rajpurohit, Abhinav Singh, Swastika Mukherjee, Swaroopa Ghosh

Duration: 116 minutes

Available in: Theatres

Technology was the storyteller of Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010), Dibakar Banerjee’s daring anthology film featuring an honour killing, an MMS scandal and a sting operation. The cleverly shot drama was inspired by the unsettling and evolving role of the digital camera – handycams, hidden cams, security footage, found footage – in modern society. The three stories were loosely ‘connected,’ just like people were. Those were simpler times, back when the cinema of electronics was still limited to visual and narrative implications; back when grainy voyeurism became the backbone of genres. But technology is the story of Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 (LSD 2), Banerjee’s unforgiving satire on the Indian internet age. It is no longer the hardware – the eyes or ears – of a film; it is the virus-riddled software. It is no longer a film-making experiment; it is the very state of being. 

This spiritual sequel presents three snapshots of the social media generation. The mutation begins with the title itself; the “Love,” “Sex” and “Dhokha” segments morph into “Like,” “Share” and “Download”. Like revolves around Noor (Paritosh Tiwari), a transitioning female drumming up controversy on a Bigg-Boss-meets-Jhalak-Dikhla-Jaa reality show called ‘Truth ya Nach’. Noor’s viral stardom is inextricably linked to her gender identity; the arrival of her estranged mother (Swaroopa Ghosh) on the show cements her bridge between self-discovery and selfsploitation. Share revolves around Kulu (Bonita Rajpurohit), a young and spirited trans woman whose sexual assault exposes the armchair idealism of her employer, Lovina Singh (Swastika Mukherjee). The hype of Kulu’s case tests not only Lovina’s solidarity but also the state-sponsored inclusivity scheme that politicises the hiring of others like Kulu. Download explores the unraveling of a Youtuber called ‘Game Paapi’ (Abhinav Singh) – real name Shubham – during his hypermasculine rise to fame. The teenager’s journey to 10 million subscribers is littered with deep fakes, trolls, memes, metaverses, virtual godmen, and an ingrained nod to the Ryan International School murder case. 

Paritosh Tiwari as Noor in LSD 2
Paritosh Tiwari as Noor in LSD 2

The Camera is Everywhere

Watching LSD 2 is a strange experience. Allusions to the hallucinatory drug aside, it’s like attending the class of a colourful and snarky professor without fully grasping his words. It’s playful to a fault, but it also treads the shaky line between bitter and indulgent. The film prides itself in getting carried away by the trippy embellishment – the takedowns of reality television (watch out for the Anu Malik meltdown), video-call and influencer culture – that hides the commentary. The film knows it isn’t as cutting-edge as its predecessor. To its credit, it doesn’t aim for the easy shock value of digital peepholes and spycams; the effect is more entrenched, where every person is more screen than slate. Banerjee is so cynical about the keypad landscape that he’s almost amused. You can see it in the way he designs the chaos and contradictions of the so-bad-it’s-addictive era. Along with Eeb Allay Ooo! (2019) writers Shubham and Prateek Vats, he distills some well-observed truths into a series of shrewd but uneven vignettes. It’s as if LSD 2 goes full method-actor in its tone: If life is so surreal, why should a film feel real? If digital gratification is instant and fleeting, why should a digital film be any different?

The perspective of the camera shaped the look of the 2010 drama. It’s like both the characters and the audience were coming to terms with the prospect of being reduced to real-time data. LSD 2 normalises the loss of privacy; the camera is everywhere, even when it’s not. A lot of Shubham’s story, for instance, unfolds from the perspective of his webcam, regardless of whether he’s gaming or not. An amateur crime vlogger discovers Kulu’s unconscious body in the bushes. Truth Ya Nach offers their contestants an ‘off-cam’ option, but it comes with the unsaid caveat of a drop in their scores. In the scenes that don’t organically have a camera – like when Noor argues with her mother in the off-cam room, Kulu meets Lovina in her office, or Shubham gets interrogated in his living room – the human eye becomes a point of view. The metaphor is twofold. Firstly, it’s people who are now extensions of technology, not vice versa. It’s hard to tell a lens from a gaze, or light from the limelight. And secondly, living itself is an endless live-streaming session. Everyone is a character and everything is an act. 

Bonita Rajpurohit as Kulu in LSD 2
Bonita Rajpurohit as Kulu in LSD 2

Unboxing Gen Z 

The DNA of the LSD franchise is that the cast – of new and hungry faces – inherently feeds its theme. Newcomers like Rajkummar Rao, Anshuman Jha and Nushrratt Bharuccha informed the direness of their stories in the first film. This time, the blurring of boundaries is furthered. The need to be noticed looms large over the performers and the performers they play. All three – Paritosh Tiwari as Noor, trans actress Bonita Rajpurohit as Kulu, Abhinav Singh as Shubham – excel as ‘celebrities’ who opt for notoriety over anonymity. The casting of a male actor as Noor is risky but deliberate. It’s not just because Noor’s biological journey is incomplete, but also because it teases the optics of her five minutes of fame. Every time Noor lapses into her dead-name avatar, you wonder: Is this a transitioning female with the courage to ‘express’ herself to the nation, or is this a man willing to alter body and soul for the cameras? 

Across the three narratives, the background is familiar: A ‘75 Years of Independence’ flag at an airport; a Muslim boyfriend getting arrested as an arm-twisting tactic; a bus driver accused of murder in a school rampant with student bullying. Shubham’s fate suggests that there’s no difference between mythology and machine. When in doubt, he simply ‘ascends to a higher plane’ – a Gen-Z version of embracing divinity and religion. The fates of Noor and Kulu imply that institutional wokeness – a production house milking the minority discourse; a government mining a younger vote base – is a symptom of internet wokeness. The television sponsors see Noor as little more than a product. And Lovina’s savarna saviour complex is a reflection of her city-bred empathy. You can tell that, as a single mother, she’s trying to reverse-engineer her compassion. She convinces herself that she is the victim; that her efforts to ‘help’ Kulu, a cleaner at the metro station she manages, are met with lies and hostility. When push comes to shove, the schemes and programs shrink people into labels.  

In the end, the message is as funny as it is depressing. New-age technology makes it impossible to tell progression from regression, or artificial intelligence from natural intellect. The social divides were only deepened by the cameras in Love Sex Aur Dhokha. LSD 2, though, is the pixelated space in between. The demons are now wired within. The oppressed need no enemies – no patriarchal family, no perverse store supervisor – in an age that pits oppression against its own spectacle. After all, it’s no longer about being watched. It’s about the agency – and all-consuming business – of being seen. 

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