Friday, March 21, 2014


Release date:
March 21, 2014
Bhushan Patel


Sunny Leone, Saahil Prem, Parvin Dabas, Karan Mehra, Sandhya Mridul, Divya Dutta

Caveat: There's far less sex in Ragini MMS 2 than the promos would suggest.
In fact, except for this brief girl-on-girl kiss, there's nothing in the film that
mainstream Hindi film audiences have not already seen in Murder,
Yeh Saali Zindagi and Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, in an increasingly
sexually active Bollywood

If you’ve already watched Ragini MMS 2 with the sole goal of seeing soft porn in an Indian theatre, then the joke’s on you. The sequel to 2011’s Ragini MMS has been promoted as a horrex (horror + sex) film, and since porn star Sunny Leone is the lead, expectations are high on that front. Here’s the thing: the film is actually pretty neat in the scares and humour department, but as far as sex goes, well… I can think of several Hindi films that have delivered as much or more bedroom activity in an increasingly sexually active Bollywood.

As consolation I suppose, the camera repeatedly gapes at Leone’s football-sized breasts in teeny clothing – but you could buy posters of her for that, no? In the opening song we get unrelenting overhead shots of her barely-clothed prone body with her hands placed over the nipple area – which is kind of funny since still and moving shots of a nude Leone from every conceivable angle are easily available on the Internet. She wanders around looking fantastic in a tiny tight T-shirt and panties in an abandoned, haunted mansion late at night – which is such an in-your-face effort to titillate that it had the effect of making me giggle in the middle of an otherwise anxiety-inducing scene. And she kisses a girl, and the Censor Board has passed that lip-to-lip girl-on-girl exchange – which is a dramatic new development in the history of Indian film censorship but no big deal for Leone.

The film features just one actual sex scene with the leading lady, and that too doesn’t cross any frontiers beyond what Bollywood has already crossed in the likes of Murder, Yeh Saali Zindagi and Saheb Biwi aur Gangster in recent years. Those who won’t be satisfied with a toned-down version of a pornographic star may prefer to stay at home and google “Sunny Leone videos”. For the rest of you, here’s my review.

Ragini MMS 2 takes off precisely where the first instalment left off. Remember Ragini and her boyfriend had gone off for a sex romp over the weekend to an ancient haveli? He meant to shoot them together in bed and sell the video, but the ghost of the house had other plans. End: the boy is dead and the girl has gone out of her mind.

Fast forward to Film 2 and the renowned director Rocks (Parvin Dabas) is making a film about what happened to Ragini. The heroine of this film-in-a-film is to be played by porn star Sunny (that’s Leone’s character’s name). Also in the picture is the self-obsessed, horny leading man (Karan Mehra), the ambitious supporting actress Monali (Sandhya Mridul), writer Satya (Saahil Prem) and a psychiatrist studying Ragini’s case (Divya Dutta). Kainaz Motivala from the first film makes an appearance as Ragini who is now consigned to a mental asylum. 

Now as you know, it’s the fine tradition of horror films that when a ghost is at large, characters will wander into forests and unlit attics. In Ragini MMS 2, Rocks – on the insistence of the writer – shoots his film in the very house where Ragini and her boyfriend had met their fate. Part of the unit even sets up residence there instead of checking into a hotel.

Logic clearly should not be applied too much though to a film in which a fellow who is making a promotional video about Rocks’ film masturbates on camera in the middle of his own shoot in the haunted house (did he mean to share that footage with TV channels?) and though he’s killed there right at the start, no mention is made of him through the remaining two hours.

What follows is a film with some genuinely startling scenes and a plausible back story, but the effort to turn us on with Leone’s presence ends up diluting what could otherwise have been a solid spookfest. The lady has improved since her Bollywood debut in Jism2, but she can still barely move a muscle on her face. She’s also a rather stiff dancer, unless she’s being asked to stick her booty out at various angles. Still, she has an enviably great body plus she does a good job of one fun scene in which she fakes an orgasm in front of the entire film unit to challenge a fellow who thinks that a porn star would not have any acting abilities.

In fact, what I liked most about Ragini MMS 2 is that Leone’s character takes on anyone in the group who assumes she’s either sexually available or a non-actor simply because she’s a porn queen. The point is clearly directed at audience prejudice too. It’s another matter that the message would have been more impactful if the actor in question actually could act.

Director Bhushan Patel must also be commended for never crossing the line into sleazy territory. Although he serves up generous views of his heroine’s cleavage, the camera does not cheapen her the way it did in Jism 2. In fact, if only he and the writing team had stayed true to the effort to frighten us and if only they’d worked a little more on the strong fundamentals they gave to their paranormal angle, this could have been a much better film.

Unfortunately, like Rocks in Ragini MMS 2, Patel & Co. too seem to have been so taken in by the fact that they had an internationally famous porn star on board, that they got distracted too often from that goal. The result is that though their story has an interesting foundation, instead of developing it to the fullest extent possible, the film ends up dipping into horror clichés and Bollywood formulae towards the end. Nothing illustrates this point better than the finale in which we the audience are just emerging from being scared by the ghost’s shenanigans when, instead of allowing us to hold on to that mood, the screen bursts into the by-now-mandatory-with-the-closing-credits peppy song and dance, featuring Leone shimmying to Yo Yo Honey Singh’s tune. For the record, the songs are uniformly unremarkable.

Still, in the overall analysis, Ragini MMS 2 gets its atmospherics and most of its cast right, it is scary in places and funny elsewhere, the dialogue writing is often clever, and it is not an unintelligent film. Saahil Prem is the kind of actor who makes you curious to see what he might do with a bigger role, Sandhya Mridul is hilarious as a behenji willing to “compro” for her career, and I guess it can be safely said that few women in this world can fake an orgasm as well as Ms Leone. Ragini MMS 2 could have been better but as things stand, given the space it inhabits and the promises it makes, I enjoyed more about it than I did not.

Rating (out of five): **3/4 (stars out of 5)

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
120 minutes

Photographs courtesy: Effective Communication

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