It is indeed surprising to see the great Pahlaj Nihalani, the former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman and staunch protector of our sanskaar, ‘presenting’ Julie 2.

After all, it was Nihalani who once had a problem with kissing scenes in the James Bond movie Spectre and a bra being shown in Dum Laga Ke Haisha. It was he who opened our eyes to the wonderful truth that our real sanskaar lies in pretending no one has sex or sexual thoughts, and that expressions of lust/love are just the worst.

A still from Julie 2. Youtube screengrab

A still from Julie 2. Youtube screengrab

On the other hand, Julie 2 is a film full of scenes involving kissing (and much more), falling bras, and songs which call a woman ‘tandoor garam’. Just from watching the trailer of this movie, one may tend to think that Nihalani’s talk about sanskaar was nothing but a stinking pile of rubbish.

But Nihalani’s devotion to sanskaar goes much deeper.

Julie 2 was probably Nihalani’s way of punishing a large number of unsanskaari people by giving them permanent brain damage.

He probably knew that a sanskaari person would never, ever commit the unforgivable sin of thinking about sex and watch all the unsanskaari things shown in Julie 2.

Thus, in all likelihood, Nihalani’s genius plan was to gather all unsanskaari folks in a cinema hall and punish them by presenting a film so pathetic that it would take weeks of therapy to recover from the trauma caused by all the nonsense taking place in the name of cinema, thereby making the world a better place. Such is his greatness.

In Julie 2, South Indian actress Raai Laxmi makes her Bollywood debut by playing Julie – a naïve, innocent girl trying to make it big in the bad and dirty world of showbiz. As the film begins, we are shown a Julie who already has a successful career as an actress. But she is soon attacked by a bunch of armed henchmen in a jewelry shop. As CID’s senior inspector Abhijeet ACP Dev Dutt (played by Aditya Srivastava) investigates the mystery and discusses Julie’s life with her guardian Annie Aunty (played by Rati Agnihotri), we are shown Julie’s long struggle in flashbacks.

Raai Laxmi in a poster for Julie 2. Image courtesy Facebook/@Julie2Film

Raai Laxmi in a poster for Julie 2. Image courtesy Facebook/@Julie2Film

The first sign that Julie 2 is around two hours of torture is, well, that it’s called Julie 2. Its plot (or whatever little there is of it) has absolutely nothing to do with its supposed 2004 prequel Julie. The unoriginal name ‘Julie 2’ was obviously chosen by the filmmakers to market the movie by promising the same rubbish theme: Steamy sex scenes and raunchy item songs in the name of some shallow, half-baked message about hardships faced by women.

As for Raai Laxmi, one doesn’t know whether to feel bad for her or cringe at her poor performance. On one hand, Laxmi’s expression when Julie is talking about getting sexually assaulted as a teenager is the same as when her character is happy and smiling at another person. On the other hand, you feel bad for Laxmi when you realise the film shamelessly objectifies women, something its ‘message’ was supposed to be fighting against.

The film’s excuse of portraying women’s issues falls apart when instead of presenting the sexual objectification of Julie by men in a negative light, it actually glamourises it, thus encouraging such behaviour. The focus in the sex scenes and item songs is always on titillating the audience and presenting Julie as some sort of sex toy. This movie is about the casting couch mentality, except it is all about secretly sympathising with it.

The mess of a screenplay and horrible writing becomes obvious through some of the mind-boggling, absurd decisions taken by characters and the obvious, in-your-face loopholes. The shoddy writing and direction by Deepak Shivdasani also becomes clear when you realise that Julie’s idea of independence in the movie basically boils down to finding love and support from any man, even if she is fully aware that he is using her for sex. Because who needs real women empowerment, right?

The other characters are as shallow. Ravi Kishan’s depiction of a South Indian actor will convince you more than ever that he is not a South Indian. Srivastava desperately tries playing super-cop by saying dialogues like ‘Ye dhai kilo ka nahi, dhai feet ka haanth hai.’ And according to Rati Agnihotri’s Annie Aunty, the solution to every single problem in this world can be found in religion. The only tolerable performance comes from Pankaj Tripathi, who pays the politician Ashwini Asthana.

Julie 2 is one of those movies which makes the commercials against smoking, shown before a film in a theatre, look great.

But then again, maybe that was the whole point. By making us unsanskaari people go through such turmoil, Julie 2 actually becomes the most sanskaari film in the universe.

Nihalani, despite leaving CBFC, is still looking after our sanskaar with trash like Julie 2. Like a silent guardian. A watchful protector.

The sanskaari knight.


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