Between 2003 and 2004, three Hindi erotic thrillers paved the way for several generic imitations down the years, such as the Hate Story series. These films were Amit Saxena’s Jism (2003), Anurag Basu’s Murder (2004) and Deepak Shivdasani’s Julie (2004). While Jism’s success opened the floodgates for sex-fuelled tales of deceit, betrayal and blood, Murder and Julie strengthened the commercial viability of the genre.
Julie, in particular, was directly influential on the Hate Story series. It was Julie that popularised the idea of a woman using sex to battle the world after getting betrayed by men. Starring Neha Dhupia as the eponymous character, Julie was hyped prior to its release for its “bold” scenes, a “topless” Dhupia and assorted gimmicks. Dhupia’s “Only sex or Shah Rukh Khan sells” statement made during Julie’s promotional tour propelled the film to the spotlight. In hindsight, Julie was one of the better erotic Hindi films of the 2000s when put alongside similar efforts of the time that had minimal filmmaking merit, including Hawas (2004), Ab… Bas! (2004) and Girlfriend (2004). (The movie is not to be confused with the 1975 release, starring Lakshmi).
Shivdasani has made a sequel, Julie 2, which stars Raaj Laxmi in the lead role and in the words of its co-producer Pahlaj Nihalani, is a “complete adult family film” about young talents being forced to compromise in the movie industry. Julie 2’s central theme of a woman having to sleep with men after her dreams get destroyed is borrowed from its 2004 predecessor. The film will be released on October 6.
The 2004 film begins with Julie (Dhupia) sleeping on a white bed, wearing a white dress, draped in white sheets, in a room with white walls, as a song that plays over the opening credits go “Phoolon si ek nazuk kali, thodi si chanchal manchali.” A lengthy flashback sequence reveals how her whiteness got tainted over time.
Julie, intent on marrying her Goan boyfriend Neil (Yash Tonk), is left high and dry when the money-minded Neil scores a business opportunity with a local honcho and seals the deal by marrying his daughter. A heartbroken Julie moves to Mumbai, where she lands a job as a design consultant for a real estate agency, with no qualifications except that her boss likes her taste in wall colours.
Julie gets close to a senior colleague Rohan (Sanjay Kapoor), and in no time, they are in bed. Whenever a man propositions her for an intimate moment, Julie’s weapon of choice is to run away in glee before submitting eventually. Rohan and Julie are almost set to get married when Julie is hurt once again. This time, Rohan tries to use Julie as sexual bait to land a lucrative contract.
The twice-bitten Julie runs to the streets, gets down on her knees, and cries in the rain. She is rescued by a parlour owner-cum-pimp Rosie (Kamini Khanna). Rosie consoles Julie and offers her pearls of wisdom to survive in Mumbai: “The world is not round. It’s a merry-go-round” and “Khudkhushi ko khud-khushi mein badal do.” Julie joins the dots and decides to become a prostitute.
All is fine with her new job till a chance encounter leads to Julie meeting a young millionaire Mihir (Priyanshu Chatterjee), who has businesses worth Rs 1,000 crores at the age of 27 and is the most eligible bachelor in the country. Julie and Mihir fall in love and get engaged, but Julie is yet to tell Mihir the true nature of her profession. Triggered by a televised interview of Mihir declaring that he has a special someone in his life, she barges into a news channel’s office and demands to be interviewed. “Main ek peshewar dhandewali hoon,” she thunders.
Finally, Julie bares it all on television for her friends, family, clients, associates and the rest of the world to see. Mihir enters the show uninvited and an emotional monologue later, announces his love for Julie.
The trailer of Julie 2 follows the new Julie (Raai Laxmi) entering into sexual liaisons to further her career in the film industry. (A character advises her, “Yaha pe sirf body chalta hai, garma garam body.”) Unlike the first part, the story swerves into murder-mystery territory with a tough cop played by CID regular Aditya Srivastava trying to make sense of the complete adult family proceedings.