The movies were even tamer back when I was a kid in India. I remember feeling that I had attained nirvana of sorts, as a teenager, when I watched Barbara Bach as the sexy Russian spy in The Spy Who Loved Me--my first ever James Bond experience.
Women with a lot of skin exposed was not the way Indian movies were made.
This particular movie was fantastic for a memorable movie experience: as the movie ended and the credits started rolling, the middle aged man in the adjacent seat asked me, in Tamil, what the movie's story was, making it explicit that he had other reasons to come to the theatre :)
There was one genre of movies that were considered risque, and they were all Malayalam movies, some of which were then remade in other languages. One of the biggest success of them all was "Avalude Ravukal," which means "Her Nights" and this was the title of the movie in the Hindi remake as well.
I recall the posters splashed all over, and it was the talk among the boys, who, as boys often did, exaggerated a great deal about the movie because, well, I doubt any of us had actually watched it! The reality, as I later understood from an academic exploration, was far from anything we had imagined as teenagers. It was even considered "soft porn" material at that time only because the movie had pushed the theme of "suggestive eroticism" a little more than what people were used to. There was no nudity--not even partial--and, as this poster shows, the man shows a lot more skin than the woman does!
What I didn't know, until I read this BBC report, is this: there were special "morning shows" of this genre of movies:
Back in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s so-called "morning shows" were hugely popular - their all-male audiences consisted largely of schoolboys and bachelors seeking a rare glimpse of female flesh.Every day it is something new about India!
Because they dealt with the taboo subject of sex in a conservative India, the films were considered soft porn here.
But despite their suggestive titles and racy posters, the films were really pretty tame by international standards.
Anyway, these posters, apparently, are the theme of an exhibit in New Delhi. Strange how something that happened in my short life has become aged and quaint enough to morph into exhibits. Boy, am I getting old then!
"Morning shows" - and their hand-painted posters - did a thriving business until the advent of 24-hour television, cheap videos and DVDs and the internet began their downward slide. ...India has come quite some ways since those days, but "sex" continues to be a highly delicate topic, in contrast to the rather mundane nature in this part of the world.
The exhibition, Morning Show, is perhaps the first time such posters have gone on display in India.
"The morning show culture is almost gone now," says V Sunil, the curator of the exhibition.
"In the pre-internet and television era, a whole generation of Indian men learnt their birds and bees from these films," he says.
The shows usually began at 10am and finished before the hordes descended on the cinemas to see mainstream Bollywood offerings.
Mr Sunil is the creative director at Wieden+Kennedy, a US-based advertising firm, and the show at the swish art gallery at their office in south Delhi's Sheikh Sarai area has 23 posters on display.
The gallery, rated the city's best by Delhi Time Out magazine last year, might seem an unlikely venue to show posters about films which were regarded as a bit sleazy. No woman was ever seen queuing to get into a morning show.
But organisers say the exhibition has attracted a steady stream of visitors - and a surprisingly large number of them have been women.
Sexual relations take on entirely different dynamics there. When an actor, Kushboo championed sex education and even remarked that “no educated man would expect his [bride] to be a virgin," criminal proceedings against her were litigated all the way to India's highest court, which ruled that:
[Unmarried couples] have the right to live together after hearing a case involving a Tamil actress accused of corrupting young minds by promoting premarital sex.India is one heck of a complicated country, to say the least.
The judges pointed out that even the Hindu gods, Lord Krishna and Radha, were co-habiting lovers rather than man and wife. “When two adult people want to live together, what is the offence?” they said. “Living together is not an offence. Living together is a right to life.”
A recent incident further illustrates how institutions are having a tough time in these contexts:
The Kannada Film Producers' Association imposed the three-year ban earlier this week, saying Ms Thukral had spoiled the "domestic harmony of a fellow actor".From here, we would wonder why the movie producers have to even remotely think about penalizing an actor even if she had had sexual liaisons with a married actor.
But opposition within the film industry convinced producers to reverse the ban.
Ms Thukral denies having an affair with the actor, known as Darshan, a popular action hero in south India.
"Looking back it was a hasty decision. We have written to her expressing regret," the president of the Karnataka Film Producers' Association, Munirathnam, told reporters.
The association initially said the ban would be reconsidered only if she apologised but Ms Thukral refused, insisting she had had no inappropriate relationship with Darshan.
The unequal gender treatment becomes clear when one reads this:
The ban was imposed after Darshan was arrested on charges of domestic violence last week, following a complaint from his wife, Vijaylakshmi.So, the married male actor may or may not have had an affair with a female actor. The female actor was banned from the industry. The male actor is reported to have physically assaulted his wife and threatened her with a gun and no action was taken against him? Strange are the ways, I suppose.
She alleged that he had beaten her and threatened her with a gun but she later withdrew the complaint, a police official told the BBC. The argument was reportedly over the alleged affair with Ms Thukral.