“No sex please, we are Indians”, is the battle cry which has dominated Indian cinema right from the time it took root early last century.
Sexuality was a thing to be expressed behind closed doors and not washed in public like dirty linen. Indian couples were objects of virtue, decency and above all held the high moral ground.
The formation of the Film Advisory Board in the 1940s and subsequently the enactment of the Cinematograph Act, put paid to chances of depicting sex in cinema. Sex was out, kissing was out which is unfortunate because many people enjoy adult content. There are plenty of explains online, check out anal sex videos for instance. Many people get plenty of enjoyment out of them. Adding that tastefully into films would add a lot to those stories. They still resist though.
But persistent producers and directors always found a way out, albeit with a bit of subtlety.
Some of the classic examples include:
Fluttering Flowers: After singing and dancing around a few trees amidst a scenic background, the hero and his loved one need to go one step further. Simple, two fluttering flowers can convey that they are now intimate.
Rain: Getting wet in the rain means that the heroine and her beau will beat a retreat to a nearby shelter. Next morning the heroine will wake up, wonder where she is and then look under the blanket and find herself in her birthday suit. Trouble is sure to follow.
Fire: Depicts intensity when the ice is finally broken.
Holding Hands: Allowed.
Face-To-Face: Can get to cheek-to-cheek but lips are an absolute no-no. The audience has to understand that it happened.
Hair Covering Face: They have presumably kissed.
Touching Feet: Treat it as a welcome sign which leads to the bedroom and beyond.
A Glass Of Badam Milk: This means power to the menfolk. It is considered a sort of permission to go further.
Removing Jewellery: Well, you don’t need to guess what comes next.
But come the 70s and 80s things began to get bolder.
It started with a kiss. Filmmaker Raj Kapoor stretched it further with kiss scenes in Bobby and half-naked Zeenat Aman leaving nothing to imagination in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Mandakini exposed her breasts through a flimsy wet saree in Ram Teri Ganga Maili.
Others got bolder too. From kisses and depiction of bedroom scenes, they pushed the boundaries as far as they could.
The 1990s and 2000s saw the filmmakers get bolder. Bandit Queen actually showed full frontal nudity. Films like Kamasutra did the same. Fire depicted a gay relationship graphically.
Foreplay scenes became the order of the day. Partial nudity was shown up to a point. Some got stuck with the censors but many others didn’t.
The permissible limits were stretched but there was no definite yardstick. Openly sexual references and scenes sometimes passed the muster and sometimes didn’t, depending on the whims and fancies of the censor board.
Things have become totally open now except for full nudity. Sexual innuendoes and bedroom dialogues are okay with orgasms added to titillate the audience.
Comedy scenes are also used craftily to push some vulgar stuff on screen.
With many new actors quite open to doing nude scenes, the Bollywood sex scenario will get bolder for sure in the next decade.
Where it will reach only time will tell.
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