Bollywood’s cool about sex
Do you touch yourself? Dev (Abhay Deol) asks his childhood sweetheart Paro (Mahie Gill). She nods and curls her toes. Is it a situation women recognise? Dev D, Anurag Kashyap’s new movie, seems to be altering the portrayal of the Bollywood heroine — from sex
symbol to sexually aware woman. But is it a trend or a one-off attempt?
According to Mahie Gill, Indian cinema is changing fast and portraying a woman as sexually alive is becoming acceptable. Audiences have matured alongside, she says. “In Punjab, where many men work abroad, the women loved my character and they could relate to her,” says Mahi.
Pooja Bhat, who’s been associated with films like Jism and Murder, says today’s generation is evolved in terms of understanding reality and Bollywood should reflect that. “Jism showed a heroine who was comfortable with her sexuality in a way that’s considered unacceptable. But we want the Indian heroine not to have sex or even talk about it,” says Pooja. Recalling when, at the age of 19, her views about being in a close relationship with her boyfriend that created an uproar, Pooja finds it a positive sign that the Indian audience, which has been fed a diet of coy Indian heroines, has accepted Anurag’s work with no protests.
Director Dibakar Banerjee agrees that the greeting card romance that Hindi films portray — barring exceptions like Kya Kehna and Jism — is too far removed from reality. “Women, too, are sexual creatures and do not have to be apologetic about it. The natural sexuality of women must be portrayed as a fact — not as a symbol of weakness,” he says. Dibakar adds that the more we accept the sexuality of women, the more relaxed we will be about it. Keeping it under wraps, making it a big deal and running away from the modern Indian woman will only push us back in time,” he says.
For media analyst Anil Wanvari, it’s natural that Indian cinema is now able to create heroines who acknowledge their sexuality. “But one has to be careful that it does not influence young minds and is not used to titillate or as a sex romp,” he cautions.