In a way, perhaps it is a continuation of my recent posts on the 25 years that it has been since I left India. Bollywood and sex are only props for me, eh! Or, perhaps the idea that "sex" sells :)
Earlier today, a Wall Street Journal tweet caught my attention, which led me to read this piece there on Ekta Kapoor who "Pitches Dirtier Bollywood."
Her big-screen efforts display plenty of skin and sex, in contrast to the "no-kissing, song-and-dance-routine" Bollywood films that have dominated the box office for years.Plenty of skin and sex? That is quite a change from the India I left behind in 1987! As I noted in that earlier post, "Women with a lot of skin exposed was not the way Indian movies were made." Even the poster for the notorious "Her Nights" had only the man all exposed--well, his upper body!
As the Guardian notes:
"It was only 25 years ago that you couldn't show a kiss on screen in Bollywood," said Pankaj Kothari, who runs a talent management agency in Mumbai. "They would show two flowers 'kissing' instead. If the director wanted to suggest a sex scene, they would include a shot of a bedside lamp going dark."Yep, that is how it was done then. Symbolic representations. No real stuff. But, I was okay with that--it was like reading where one had to rely on on our own imaginations. Often, it turns out that our imaginations are way more exciting than whatever is real.
The WSJ adds:
Ms. Kapoor has now signed up Sunny Leone, a Canadian porn actress of Indian origin, for an upcoming horror flick.At least there is one way in which Bollywood has not changed then: nothing cerebral in its movies! I watched Bengali or Malayalam movies with subtitles, or the rare Tamil movie, to activate my brain cells. Bollywood was only to
"For me, it's another branch and another expression of doing films without [mainstream] actors," said Ms. Kapoor. "That's why we've signed on Sunny Leone. Clearly she is not in the star bracket but definitely in the controversial bracket." She added: "I warn you, don't expect anything cerebral out of it."
Back to the Guardian:
Leone had to learn Hindi for the film but didn't have to dig too deep to research her character: she plays a porn actor who is tasked by the intelligence agencies with luring in a deadly assassin with her charms.Hmmmm, I am not sure whether this is particularly a good development. Semi-nudity here in the US, for instance, is pretty much a boring pedestrian sight on hot summer days. Public displays of affection don't even make us pause to look. So, unless it is full frontal nudity, there is nothing to write home about. But, in India, I would think that such depictions will be far removed from everyday life. But then, in everyday life people don't go around singing and dancing and running from tree to tree either. Oh well; not my problem!
The film is due to open this weekend at 1,300 screens with the equivalent of an 18 certificate. But is India ready? Manish Dubey, editor at the Bollywood channel UTV Stars, thinks so. "The days of a bikini providing titillation are gone. We are now moving towards bold acts which include love making scenes, going semi-nude and bold dialogues," he said, adding: "Nothing can be deemed 'shocking' for today's audience."
So, will the new film with a porn actress break any new ground?
But does Jism 2 really offer anything new? It doesn't break any cinematic new ground, said Dubey – it has just capitalised on its unique selling point: having a porn star lead. "The bottom line is that flesh display in the film will be the same [as in other films] but the 'expectation' of getting more flesh would be high with the result that it might benefit them at the box office."Aha, the good ol' bait and switch, it seems like--draw more attention by talking about sex and a porn actress in order to sell more tickets. Hey, PT Barnum, you were right, yet again!
The WSJ notes that Ekta Kapoor's father was a movie star in his days--Jeetendra. As Johnny Carson often quipped, "I did not know that!"
Here is one of my favorites from a Jeetendra movie (I didn't know it was a Jeetendra movie until I googled!)