India Sells

Mark Twain was once walking down a beach on an island in the Pacific when he noticed a bunch of native women shedding their clothes before taking a swim in the ocean. When the dames had reached the water, Twain collected their clothes and sat on them to prevent them from being swept away by the wind. Last Saturday or rather Sunday, I woke up at 2 a.m. and watched the late night feature on Zee Cinema to till 3.00 p.m. I was expecting Mira Nair’s Kamasutra, but they were showing Deepa Mehta’s Fire starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. It did not really matter because I was watching the channel to brush up my Hindi.

Shabana Azmi may be aiming for but http://www.old$punker$.com would have been more her league. I was mildly traumatized when Zee failed to show any girl-on-girl action. The married but lonely women did some “lip-to-lip kissing” (the director lives in Canada and is divorced) and that was all. Azmi performed some saucy oral sex though. Did you say how? Well, she used a finger to take a drop of sweat from the lower part of Ms. Das’ leg and put it in her mouth. No need for an Encore! The high point of the one hour that I saw was the dance scene. It has Nandita Das wearing a suit. Shobha De commented that the film ridicules homosexuals and homosexuals should be out in the streets protesting against the film and not ordinary people. (I like Shobha De, not for her novels or TV screenplays or the rumoured good looks but for her columns in the Times of India.)

When the film was released, it generated a lot of controversy, much of it intended by the director Deepa Mehta for the sake of publicity. The heroines had names Radha and Sita. By this, Mehta wanted to convey that Indian women fit the classical mould of Mahabharata’s Radha and Ramayana’s Sita but that they needed to break that mould (and perhabs become lesbians?). The Shiv Sena considered this an attack on the religious beliefs of the majority community and attacked cinema theaters showing the film. The veteran actor Dilip Kumar (who is actually a Muslim) filed a petition in court against the protests. Bal Thackeray promptly suggested and rightly so that one of the protogonists have the name Saira (same name as Mr. Kumar’s wife Saira Banu, an actress) and the story be set in a Muslim family instead.

The international media then started calling Deepa Mehta, Shabana Azmi, and Nandita Das as bold. The CNN asked Deep Mehta:

Do you find the climate in India hostile to art and free expression?

Ms. Azmi nodded in agreement.

In India, people look up to Western countries for creations from Vivid Videos and Wicked Pictures, with their slick production values and talented cast. So, Westerners, of all people, should know that removing sweat from a woman’s leg and putting it in one’s mouth was neither creative nor bold. BBC corrrespondent Daniel Lak complained about the lack of enough “awareness” about homosexuality in India. (One-fifth of Britain is homosexual and things like Gay Bereavement Centres are funded with taxpayer’s money. Also, in the UK and US, feminists are almost always homosexuals.) The Western media is so stupid that it is not unusual to find statements like the one found at the Internet Movie Database:

With films such as “Fire” and “Earth”, she is quickly becoming the voice of a new India.

According to Western news reports, the film had aroused a great deal of excitement among women. Women in Indian can’t just walk into a theater to see an Adults-Only film. I guess they wanted see some porn and the women’s liberation theme just came in handy. This was like, several years ago I felt too awkward to see an adult movie and thought I could try the Kamasutra film purely to decide on its artistic merits.

Deepa Mehta comes from a long list of so-called Indian intellectuals who pretend to be constrained by their Indian roots and yet try to make gains through those very Indian roots. V. S. Naipaul did it with his Autobiography Of An Unknown Indian. Khushwant Singh came to prominence with his Mark of Vishnu. Because Singh writes with a Western Audience in mind, his work is littered with an unbearable amount of boring explanations and definitions. When Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was banned in India, he was called bold – an appellation that Western media puts on many demented Indian jerks. When Rushdie later wrote the The Satanic Verses where he combined his own life story with that of Amitabh Bachan and Prophet Mohammed, Muslims promptly handed him a death sentence. Though Rushdie later issued an apology and claimed to have re-embraced Islam, he continues to keep the four-letter B-word. Why? Because he named a dog character as Jawahar in a different novel! All this proves one thing – we Indians are a tolerant lot and the pigs among us or abroad know that India sells.

And in case you didn’t know, the bold actress Nandita Das used a double in the film Fire for the so-called intimate scenes. I don’t know if the other bold actress Shabana Azmi used a double too. It does not matter if she didn’t.

Somewhat related to all this, I should make a mention of an article in The Hindu written by a feminist. This woman went to a cinema with a female relative to see Shekar Kapur’s Bandit Queen. The audience was almost entirely made up of men. During the gangrape scene, these guys made a lot of approving noises – a lot of ooohs and aaahs. For them, it was just another porn movie. If a film director mixes a social message with sex, it is totally lost on our people.


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