OMG 2 Review: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi and a Whole Lot of Mansplaining

The film sees Kumar as a super woke fakir who helps a father push for sex education being introduced in schools
OMG 2 Review: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi and a Whole Lot of Mansplaining
OMG 2 Review: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi and a Whole Lot of Mansplaining

Director: Amit Rai
Writer: Amit Rai
Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Kumar, Yami Gautam Dhar, Pavan Malhotra

Duration: 155 minutes 

Available in: Theatres.

OMG 2 is an extremely spiritual sequel to Umesh Shukla’s OMG – Oh My God! (2012), the hit satire that took aim at the commercial abuse of religion back when the world was a simpler place. The design is the same: A common man takes society itself to court, with a little help from a divine friend. This film bats for sex education in Indian schools through the prism of religion. But it does so in the most bewildering way possible. You’d think the urge to reform an entire country’s approach towards sex would be triggered by the female experience. You’d expect a girl’s trauma in a patriarchal nation to be the logical reason behind this social overhaul. You’d imagine women would have a say in a premise that pushes for the normalisation of physical pleasure. 

Yet, OMG 2 takes its mansplaining so literally that the ‘controversial’ incident is shaped by the very masculinity that’s responsible for the stigmatization of sex. It involves the suspension of a teen boy, Vivek, whose masturbation video goes viral after he is hospitalised for having viagra pills to increase the size of his penis and win back his salsa dancing partner. (The video was shot without his consent in the school toilet). It’s a lot to swallow. When a friend explains the chain of events to his religious father, Kanti (Pankaj Tripathi), we see the flashback of the boy frowning at the number 3.8 (inches, I presume) after trying every possible option. I never thought I’d use the term ‘Big Dick Energy’ as a plot point in a movie review, but here we are. 

Akshay Kumar in OMG 2 now in theatres.
Akshay Kumar in OMG 2 now in theatres.

What Does OMG 2 Want To Say?

Kanti, who is a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, is inspired by an eccentric and super-woke fakir (Akshay Kumar, as a divine messenger) to fight for the kid’s dignity – which, for some reason, means dragging the school to court for not including sex education in their curriculum. Whenever Kanti (and the script) hits a road-block in the case, a grinning Kumar arrives with an answer or three. Everyone duly forgets that the once-horny kid is put through the wringer for this 155-minute-long lecture – he tries to kill himself twice, goes into severe depression, loses face, gets mocked by the police and community, only for the adults to spend the second half dissecting his video and flaunting the history of the Kamasutra. In short, Vivek and his porn become pawns. I’d have preferred a sermon on mental health and the normalization of therapy, but this is a film that loves its cultural stiffness.

Let’s just pretend that a boy being the trigger is fine. Even by this tone-deaf metric, it’s hard to figure out what the movie wants to say. Kanti begins by defending his son’s right to masturbate, because masturbating is not a bad thing. He insists that prudery should have no place in Indian society. (Never mind that he is inadvertently arguing for men across India to pass off perversion as sex-positivity). But at some point, his argument becomes about the need for early sex education so that kids like Vivek are rescued from themselves, which in turn implies that masturbating is a bad thing after all. Is he batting for sexual liberation or sexual expression? Who knows. It says something that his opposing lawyer is a smart woman (Yami Gautam Dhar), who is treated by the film as a villain (complete with a chilling score) with no case to make for the misogynistic perils of Kanti’s quest. The tragedy is that she makes more sense than he does, especially when she shames him for intellectualizing the vulgarity of the video. Only, the writing does not agree.  

Pankaj Tripathi in OMG 2 now in theatres.
Pankaj Tripathi in OMG 2 now in theatres.

Look Out for Pawan Malhotra

When the film belatedly wakes up to its own chauvinism, it throws in a few quick nods to the link between sexual repression and abuse. Most of them reek of tokenism. A scene featuring a sex worker being interrogated by both lawyers is so naive that it hurts. When Kanti almost gives up, messiah Kumar shows him the changes he has ushered in during the case. One of these moments shows a little girl finding the vocabulary to tell a family member that an uncle has been abusing her. As a viewer, my second-hand embarrassment peaked in this scene. Towards the climax, we know that Kanti will transform the land. But try dealing with the sight of a young woman meekly yelling “let’s talk about periods” amid a sea of men proudly declaring that they masturbate. Where does one even begin?

As nice as it is to see – and hear – Pankaj Tripathi on screen in any capacity, his Kanti starts sounding like a Godman who is slowly building his cult. Instead, I kept myself amused by the judge (played by the inimitable Pawan Malhotra), who seems to be the only character amused by the setting. I call it the Akshaye Khanna syndrome, where a serious actor makes a great show out of being better than the film they’re in. When we see this judge excitedly clicking selfies before every hearing to bask in the attention of a highly publicized case, it’s hard not to see Malhotra basking in the limelight of a late-career swing. But then we remember that ‘selfie’ is also slang for masturbating in the film, and all the wrong metaphors come to the fore. At least the title does a decent job of capturing my feelings.

Watch OMG2 Official Trailer

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