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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Dibakar Banerjee’s LSD 2 is a sharp critique of a society hooked to the screen

The film stars Paritosh Tiwari, Swaroopa Ghosh, Bonita Rajpurohit, Swastika Mukherjee and Abhinav Sinha

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 22.04.24, 02:09 PM
A poster of  LSD 2: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2

A poster of LSD 2: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2 X

The internet is a fickle mistress for whom we will do anything to keep her happy, from sharing our most intimate thoughts and personal moments to making a fool of ourselves, lest she turns on us. Dibakar Banerjee’s LSD 2: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha 2 is all about our lives on screen.

If Dibakar’s 2010 film Love, Sex Aur Dhokha was about voyeurism and being watched through hidden cameras and MMS, LSD 2, which comes after 14 years, is all about being seen. Told through three short, separate but interconnected vignettes, just like the first film, it deals with this generation’s relationships in the time of the internet and with the internet. The words Love, Sex and Dhokha have been replaced fittingly by Like, Share and Download. And just like the first film it touches on various social ills, from exploitation to bullying across three platforms: reality TV, social media and virtual reality.

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The common theme of the three stories is that each of the protagonists is performing for the camera — whether it is on television, phone, CCTV or computer — for an audience. The first story is about a reality show called Truth Ya Naach and a transitioning man called Noor.

The show allows its contestants to be on and off camera, with the overt understanding that being off camera will mean a drop in their ratings. Played by Paritosh Tiwari, a CIS man, Noor is constantly exploiting the camera, from staging fights to using the mother card to her status as a transgender woman, all for maximum ratings. Even infamy is a good thing if it means you are seen. The show, with Mouni Roy as the host and Tusshar Kapoor, Anu Malik and Sophie Choudry as judges, is watched and commented on through reels and YouTube videos by many, two of whom become a part of the second story.

Kullu, played by trans actress Bonita Rajpurohit, lives with her boyfriend, whose social media channel she headlines, and works as a cleaner at a metro station. When found raped, her case is championed by Lovina, played by Swastika Mukherjee, who believes in getting justice despite Kullu not wanting to register a case. When her boyfriend is picked up for no reason, Kullu goes on a rampage in front of the CCTV camera just to be seen.

Lovina, a single mother, is in performance mode as well, whether when she is on a group video call with her colleagues or when she is being intimate with her lover on a video call. Lovina’s idealism goes for a toss when Kullu’s protests threaten to derail her career, and she chooses to crush a weaker woman to make her position stronger.

Lovina’s son’s friend is involved in the cyber bullying of Game Paapi, an 18-year-old gamer Subham (Abhinav Sinha), who studies in the same school. Subham’s entire on-screen life is fake, achieved with a green screen in his bedroom and a relative with dyed blonde hair and fake American accent. A deep fake which shows Subham in intimate situations is circulated on the internet and it is telling that Subham’s uncle tells him to let it be since it has sent subscriber numbers through the roof. Cyber bullying turns into real bullying and a life is lost while Subham, who is both victim and culprit, hides in Metaverse’s alternate reality.

LSD 2 might not be as original since we have already seen the format in LSD before but it is just as sharp in its critique of society and just as impactful. A lot of credit goes to actors who bring their best to the table, with Swastika and Abhinav standing out from the rest.

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