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Sunny Leone, the Indian-origin Canadian porn star, is going to rake in the money by shedding clothes for Vishesh Films’ latest sensation-seeking release on 3 August. But spare a thought for her co-star in Jism 2. Randeep Hooda has been piling up his garments on the bedroom floor for quite some time now. Jism 2 could have been an equal opportunity movie if its producers weren’t so fixated on bombarding willing media houses with photographs of Leone covering her modesty with her hands rather than her robes. Jism 2 is being sold as the one film for which men can leave behind their wives, but some wives may just want to come along to watch Hooda, the only Bollywood lover at the moment to actually have an active sex life.

Body of work: Hooda in Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye.

But the definitive entry in Hooda’s oeuvre is Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya, in which he played the famous painter Raja Ravi Varma. The film was completed in 2008 but hasn’t yet been released. Only film festival delegates have had the pleasure of watching Varma as a sensualist who painted and panted in equal measure. It’s likely that Rang Rasiya’s adult-rated sequences, featuring frontal nudity and arduous lovemaking between Hooda’s character and his various muses, riled the Central Board of Film Certification as much as Jism 2 did. Directed by Pooja Bhatt and assiduously marketed as nothing less than India’s answer to Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, Jism 2 was given an adults-only certificate only after Bhatt agreed to trim scenes of sexual intercourse. We wonder what the folks behind the Amul butter hoardings have to say about the matter.

Not too many men in the Hindi movie industry want to be reduced to sex objects. It’s bad for business, since male stars can be cuddly and sexy or intelligent and goofy, but they most definitely cannot be regarded as dangerous and destabilizing in any way. Besides, it’s the woman’s job to be sexually desirable and willing at all times. Yet, an image that floats on the screen for even a few seconds has a way of burrowing itself inside your head forever. John Abraham started his career with Jism and then spent the next few years exploring the range of human emotions, but a list of his key scenes, as it were, will always include his dangerously low yellow trunks moment from Dostana.

What choice does an actor like Hooda have? He is undeniably pleasing to the eye and, with his deep, purring voice, to the ears. An uncharitable view of why he takes his clothes off so often is that his career isn’t exactly giving the Khans or the Kumars sleepless nights. What better way than a skin show to get noticed? Ask Vidya Balan.

It could well be that Hooda is a closet nudist like Bettie Page, the American pin-up girl from the 1950s. Whatever the mystery, the fact is that Jism 2 is actually a double-barrelled casting coup.

Jism 2 releases on 3 August.

Write to Nandini at stallorder@livemint.com

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