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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

(Published in, on 8 February 2012, retrieved from

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Of course you clicked on the link. We’d all like to know, huh? On a day when three ministers have resigned on the charge of watching porn – while they maintain they simply had a professional interest in the nature of rave parties – one tends to think about it.
I’m not quite sure whether it’s more embarrassing that they were caught watching porn, or that they saw fit to deny it, or that they were technically in office – Assembly – when they were caught. But it seems to me that the focus is a lot less on the actual crime of watching porn in office than the moral crime of being interested in sex – an interest that has “damaged the image” of the BJP.
There must be something in our genes that simultaneously arouses our curiosity about sex and stirs up guilt over that curiosity. There’s a billion of us, so clearly, there’s been a whole lot of unprotected rollicking frolicking among our ancestors.
Were we always ashamed about sex, or did it grow on us? I mean, we must be the only country where parents delicately broach the subject of the birds and the bees to 20-something brides and grooms, on the eve of their arranged marriages. Yeah, arranged, because when two people fall in love, a gossipy relative has usually tended the scandalous idea that they were living together through the grapevine.
The notion that sex is a perfunctory, arduous duty is perpetrated through our films, too. You know, those songs where the lovers swooped in on each other, and then there would be a cut to flowers or birds? Pause for an instant now, and think of all the painstaking manipulation involved in these botanical – or avian – displays of amour.
First, a director’s assistant would have to scout for plants with suitably swollen buds, and zero in on two located conveniently close to each other. Then, strings would have to be tied to be the base of the stalks of the buds in question, and pulled by two people from opposite directions, in sync with the music.
If the director were inclined towards a feathery metaphor, the camera crew would have to wait hours for two birds to alight on a branch in the gloaming and start making out. Apparently, it doesn’t happen quite as often as one would expect.
Perhaps the reasoning behind the elaborate bidaai ritual has something to do with the perception of sex as an obligatory rite. “Oh, my daughter, that your purity must be tainted at the altar of this sacred union! Fine, now, go forth and multiply, and howl like I do now when yours go forth and multiply.”
But the first thing people want to know once a couple’s returned from its honeymoon is, “Any news?!”, usually asked in the same eager tone the couple’s friends employ for, “Have you guys done it yet?!” The relatives, though, intend “any news” as euphemism for, “Have you got knocked up yet?” Ya think?! With the miserable sex education Indians receive, it takes us several rounds of trial-and-error to have a shot at getting pregnant.
And the paucity of sex education ought probably to be blamed on the ban on pornography. And bans of this kind are what lead to a Canadian-born Indian porn star becoming the most googled name in the country. Hell, Sunny Leone even managed to win the sympathy of the Press Council of India chief, Justice Markandey Katju, a feat Salman Rushdie couldn’t accomplish.
Of course, we have our own adult film industry – those C-grade films whose posters bear raunchy titles and fat aunties sticking their tongues out at various angles. Passing by a theatre screening those of an afternoon, one will notice that the audience comprises excited schoolboys and furtive middle-aged men.
They probably don’t censor those. Which means the audience has a better chance of grasping the storyline of a Junglee Jawani than, say,The Last King of Scotland. When I caught the latter in the theatre, there was one scene where Idi Amin was having dinner with the British doctor, followed by a scene where the doctor was being tortured. Huh?! Well, our censor board didn’t consider us mature enough to witness the missing link – the doctor and Idi Amin’s wife have dessert against a garden wall. If you watched Gangs of New York in India, chances are that you had no clue what all the fighting was about.
The Land of the Kama Sutra, they say, but I wonder whether Vatsayana was the Harold Robbins of our country – you know, the guy teenage princes read, and marked out passages from, to pass on to their friends and kid brothers?
Did all this actually happen in a country where you can’t kiss in public without attracting the attention of the moral police, the actual police, or voyeurs who’ll put up your picture on Facebook, with a grammatically incorrect question lamenting the state of the nation?
No wonder the whole country’s horny. Even the government – and I’m not talking about the Minister for Cooperation, the Minister for Women and Child Development and the Minister for Ports and Science and Technology who quit their posts on Wednesday. The first AIDS awareness advertisement (issued in public interest) I can recall had a woman with red painted nails running her hands down someone’s naked back. It was on Doordarshan, I was six years old, and I understood that AIDS can spread through nail polish.
And India’s combined sexual frustration is probably the reason a scrawny model can shoot to fame by promising to strip for the Indian cricket team, and notch up a Twitter following by failing to. Or why a porn star can ferret out a comparison to Mary Magdalene from an austere judge, and then declare in umbrage, “Porn stars are not prostitutes!”


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