'OMG 2' film review: Solid performances anchor this educative and engaging sequel

Director Amit Rai doesn't pull back any punches while delivering an engaging, insightful, compelling, and poignant sermon on the importance of sex education in India. 
OMG 2. (File Photo)
OMG 2. (File Photo)

OMG is a fascinating franchise that actually has the potential to be the gift that keeps on giving. With the number of gods in our world and the never-ending social ills in our society, it is a match made in some god's heavenly abode. If Lord Krishna comes to save Kanji Lalji Mehta, who sues God in the first installment of the franchise, Lord Mahakaal descends to guide Kanti Sharan Mudgal's legal fight against a school that fails to teach sex education to his son. Director Amit Rai doesn't pull back any punches while delivering an engaging, insightful, compelling, and poignant sermon on the importance of sex education in India. 

It is interesting that OMG 2 begins with visuals of naked Sadhus praying to Lord Mahakaal, and it paints a pertinent picture of how the physical form of men isn't something that we are averse to seeing without any filters. The film revolves around Kanti Sharan's son, Vivek, who finds himself doubting his masculinity after his classmates insult his lack of sexual awareness. This instills fear about his own manhood, and takes him down a spiral that sees him approach quacks and snake-oil peddlers, and finally ends up in a viral video featuring him masturbating in his school toilet. This is a terrific start to the film, and it is wonderful how this is narrated to a terrified, god-fearing Kanti Sharan, whose first reaction to the fiasco is turning into fear AND flight mode. It is the divine intervention ft. Akshay Kumar, that ushers him into Fight mode, and OMG 2 is on cruise speed from here till the finish line. 

Impressively enough, OMG 2 doesn't bring the whole "India is the most populous country in the world yet we are ashamed to talk about sex" debate into the narrative because it is done and dusted. While one might argue the whole "Our sculptures and books espoused healthy sex knowledge so why are we close-minded" isn't new either, this is better because the onus of guilt is placed on the system and not the people. Writer-director Amit Rai is clear that normalising sex education and talking about safe sex, consent, and many more 'taboo' topics, isn't enough if it happens on a case-by-case basis. It has to happen holistically through a system that pervades every part of our Indian society, and what is a better system than the Indian education system? Through this story, and placing it within the legal framework, the questions about the archaic nature of sex education in our schools are brought to the fore. 

Of course, in every legal drama, it is important that the protagonist faces a worthy adversary, and a brilliant Pankaj Tripathi is complemented by a terrific Yami Gautam Dhar, who plays advocate Kamini Maheshwari. The naivete and innocence of Pankaj's Kanti work are even better because we understand Kamini's machinations are only to win her case. Never do we paint her as the 'villain' and her performance is so on point that we might hate the lawyer but never the person. There is a lot of dignity in the fight, and whenever the narrative puts Kamini on the losing side, it is never at her expense. Such measured writing is the strength of OMG 2, which always has its eyes on the bigger picture. Even while going for the easy punches, there exists a level of minuscule subversions that exhibit a sense of honesty. There is no doubt that the OMG and the Jolly LLB franchises share a common thread, and Pavan Malhotra's Judge Purushottam Nagar is a lovely addition to the characters inhabiting these two universes.

Despite having powerhouse performers like Pankaj, Yami, and Akshay himself, who looks more assured in OMG 2 than in his recent ventures, the film never loses focus on how it is about the Viveks of the world. In a nice touch, OMG 2 is as much about a father's quest to prove to the world his son didn't do a "vulgar and obscene thing" as it is about the son understanding why it is important to fight the good fight. In a wonderful writing flourish, the character never wilfully apologises for his act because he doesn't see it as a wrong thing. Full points to the makers for giving so much agency and importance to the central conceit despite having made various detours into the realm of preachiness... mostly done right. 

Of course, OMG 2 employs simplistic approaches as resolutions including social media sensationalisation, last-minute revelations, and even a conversation in the afterlife. But it works because of the earnestness in the writing and the performances. From espousing the importance of speaking the naked truth as it is to children, and the way Kanti delivers those dialogues in chaste Hindi to drill home the necessity of normalising language and body autonomy.

Despite ticking most of these boxes, it is slightly disappointing that the film largely talks about sexual education centred on men and their issues. While that definitely helps in the evolution of society, OMG 2 could have shone more light on the sex education surrounding women and women's issues too. Apart from a passing line about menstruation, and how masturbation is common among women too, there is nothing much in OMG 2 that talks about women without focussing on how they should be looked by the men. Well... that could, and hopefully should be a debate for another day... probably an OMG 3 with a woman God coming to save the day...

Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Kumar, Yami Gautam Dhar, Pavan Malhotra

Director: Amit Rai

Rating: 3.5 stars

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