There is an India that is liberal, free-thinking, believes in live and let live and another which is the exact opposite, ready to pound you over the head to toe the line. Most of the time, we try not to cross paths, but when we do, it gets supremely messy. Sometimes, we are even tolerant of the other, with years of balancing acts that keep private lives private, never overflowing the boundaries to upset neighbourhood aunties or even those within our own families. And, if we care to admit it, even that censoring voice in our own heads, whenever we see someone a little “too” out there, too (dare we say it?) promiscuous.
Take this example of a single mother and her two sons who moved into a west Delhi locality as tenants recently. I happened to be in on the neighbourhood gossip, which insinuates that the woman is “available”, with no evidence for the claim, and bizarrely, that the sons are mean to street dogs (there’s proof they’re not!). Shocking for those of us who live in our own bubble, but that’s the reality. What do you do except ignore it?
But, can you really ignore it when the same neighbourhood uncles and aunties sit on the censor board and decide to simply wish away a film, because it offends their sensibilities? Lipstick Under My Burkha, from the trailer, is about women who think about sex, even seem to enjoy and initiate it. That seems like a news flash to the censor board. Here’s another news flash—We’re so tired of it all, just grow up already! Besides the fact that denying certification to a film (because it’s lady-oriented, whatever that means) is essentially refusing to do your job.
Surprisingly, while we were looking the other way, it’s our Bollywood celebrities who seem to have grown up. Our heroines are no longer pretending to be virginal, whether they’re single, living-in or whatever the relationship status. Some of the credit for outing the new equation has to go to the coffee shots segment on Koffee With Karan. As men and women both play the truth game on TV, the candour is refreshing.
Watch: LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA | Official Teaser Trailer | Konkona Sensharma, Ratna Pathak Shah
There may be a lot of giggling before the actors agree to having had phone sex, treat sexting with blasé cool or confess to getting into showers with partners. It’s also the couch where Salman Khan claimed to be a virgin, but that’s so last year! Now, Varun Dhawan can talk about wanting to make a baby and women can embrace their free-spiritedness. Priyanka Chopra can look down with disdain when she’s asked if she would ever pretend to be a virgin and Kangana Ranaut asks if the tub counts as skinny-dipping, before taking a sip of her coffee shot.
It’s the new normal and high time the censor board and the rest of India gets used to it. And, there’s more coming…according to a recent report, India even has a Kinky Collective, where polyamorous couples (yes, Indian!) explore BDSM or kinky sex in their bedrooms. It won’t be long before someone decides to make a Fifty Shades of Grey right here. Censor Board, what are you going to do then? Close your eyes and get “sanskari”? Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee) Views expressed are personal.)