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5-min read

Aksar 2 Review: A Not Uninteresting Film Disfigured by a Spectacularly Failed Attempt at Eroticism

Every one is a member, willing or not, of a plot set around a sick old lady with no heirs to her ridiculously large fortune.

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:November 18, 2017, 11:05 AM IST
Aksar 2 Review: A Not Uninteresting Film Disfigured by a Spectacularly Failed Attempt at Eroticism
Image: Gautam Rode official Instagram
There is a strange masochistic pleasure in going to review what you know will be a really bad. The couple of hours or so of cinematic aggravation are more than compensated for by the subsequent thrill of crafting a particularly caustic critique. And then sometimes, films get their own back at you.

After cringing through the trailers of Aksar 2, going to review it seemed like another one of those sadomasochistic sojourns that keep you on your toes. Alas, Ananth Mahadevan, the director, had other plans. If not for its embarrassingly juvenile "erotic aesthetic" (air quotes completely implied), Aksar 2 would actually have been a fairly competent exercise in filmmaking. Also the object of everyone's (ok, of two characters') lust is slightly more inanimate than a wax figurine, and far less emotive. But we'll get that later.

Patrick Sharma aka Pat (Gautam Rode), as you can probably guess from his name, is a typically entitled rhymes-with-duckboy from his sculpted pectoral to his carefully messy hair to his dual passions for get laid and getting paid. He's the personal investment banker to the fabulously wealthy and elderly Mrs Khambata, a formidable but ailing spinster.

Mrs Khambatta (Lillete Dubey) lives a secluded, if not reclusive, life in her gilded penthouse, keeping a sharp eye on her finances even as she's attended to by her coterie of stock characters: a sinister, dead-eyed manservant (Mohit Madaan), middle-aged 'governess', and an estate lawyer so oily that he seems to have just climbed out of a vat of baby lotion - the last due to either the hitherto unexpected acting prowess of Sreesanth or an inability to dissimulate his natural personality.

The middle-aged governess is run over in the first scene, poor thing, leading Mrs Khambatta to instruct Pat to find a replacement. Pat, always the perfect chauvinist, hires the young dolled up Sheena (Zareen Khan) after first objectifying her, insisting she has dinner with him, and demanding favors, in far less subtle terms than these. But it turns out Sheena has ulterior motives to getting the job of governess (sorry to break the fourth wall here, but really? Governess? Dorothy Khambatta is a sharp old lady in 2017, not an oafish four year-old in pre-war England). She's involved in a plot with Ricky (Abhinav Shukla), the pair of them madly in love, as shown in some dreadful lovemaking song sequences. As it turns out, every one is a member, willing or not, of a plot set around a sick old lady with no heirs to her ridiculously large fortune. And for all the cliches and tropes, the film still manages to be engaging for the most part, if not for two big things.

The actors are largely invested in their roles. Lillete Dubey is luminescent, as always, while Gautam Rode is the very embodiment of the ambitious corporate 'bro', and lascivious to boot. Abhinav Shukla's Ricky is a conflicted character (or an impetuous idiot), but Shukla makes it work, as does Mohan Madaan with the deliciously named manservant and resident psychopath, Bachchan Singh. And that brings us to the elephants in the room.

Zareen Khan is, to put it mildly, terrible; it isn't so much that she's somehow wooden and mechanical at the same time as it is that she's seemingly also made of plastic. It's not fantastic. Granted that there's not much fun in being grossly sexualized by practically every character in the film or being thrown around and bent and twisted like a toy but that's barely for 10 minutes out of two hours. The rest of the film involves Sheena as an integral cog in the machinations of a constantly changing conspiracy. Central to the film, the role required a lot of investment from its actor, but Khan doesn't drop so much as a penny into that fountain. It's probably not a good sign if the audience of your erotic thriller is wishing that your female lead would go off screen and do her pouting exercises so that the plot can continue.

Secondly, there was no need for the erotic angle to this film; and if the makers were really that keen to have one, they shouldn't have gotten a overexcited 14-year old to choreograph the three "sexy songs" -- including one involving dubious consent and literally called Aaj Zid -- that make up the entirety of the film's terrible, terrible adult content. Everybody involved is uncomfortable to the point it gets ludicrous. For instance, ever so often Sheena is lifted off the ground like a trophy; given that her proportions are more Matroshka-like than marionette, it looks more like an instructional on strength training rather than a sensuous visual.

So it's a shame really. Because, with a different female lead and without the disconcerting songs, this would have been a pretty decent film. It's almost noire, with its crisp air of cynicism and the fact that there's not a single redeemable character in the film. Seriously, they are all horrible people. Indeed, coupled with the fact that despite being set in Mauritius there is not a single non-Indian in the film, you can't help wonder whether that island is sinking under the weight of its sinners.

The plot could also have used some tuning. The alternating of the conspirators between calculated planning and impulsive foolishness could have been done away with and the product placement could perhaps have been a little more subtle. Almost every second scene has a digital banking or e-wallet company logo. There's even a throw-away line which should become a classic: "Pat, ek lakh cash le aana, aur kuch paise PayTM e transfer kar dena." That's digital India right there, baby.

Rating: 2.5/5
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