11:30 am, 1998, Bangalore city. I am in Brigade road and I am bored and have nothing to do, walking down brigades I land up in front of Nilgiris, on the other side of the road is a suspicious unkempt theatre. Right next to me is Rex, I don’t feel like watching any of the blockbusters on offer. I find myself purchasing tickets for a noon show in the unhygienic and dirty movie hall that is playing a film called Jawani ki Aag. My mother would call it an adult movie, my friends would not come here in daylight, some people call it porno but I would call it a critique of our attitudes in this country to sex and sexual gratification.

The movie we are talking about is rich with the substance for sexploitation critique. The sex in these films is so matter fact, it’s unbelievable. There will be one scene where the heroine will have a bath and some character would peep in. There would be a sex scene between someone who is a maid or some other form of low-income character, which another character will peep in on; there would be a climactic sex scene where the heroine would have sex with someone (may or may not be the hero). These scenes would be placed without any discretion at even intervals throughout the film irrespective of whatever is happening in the rest of the film.

The performers in these films are embarrassed and visibly uncomfortable, in stark contrast to the adroit manner that we see white people in American porn movies handle the whole business of the set pieces that constitute a porn film, anyway in those films the story elements would be quiet minimal. But if the performers in the film weren’t mal-adroit about their fumbling blustering imitation of foreplay and sex most of the audience that frequent these places would be disappointed. Among the crowd there are inevitably a few 50+ men. There would also be some who arrive in a gang and keep disappearing into the toilet where a woman who performs oral sex for Rs. 15 a go would be waiting. In Bangalore there is a good chance that it’s a man not woman offering these services.

When we look towards the west we Indians tend to think that we are less decadent, that Indian culture is pristine, fair and superior. We have a sort of spiritual superiority complex and thus when it comes to sex we see westerners as more barbaric. This reaction is not just a misrepresentation of the rich heritage of sexual experimentation that has existed in India from ancient times it also ignores the reality of the everyday lives that can be observed in the country. We are no less promiscuous and immoral when it comes to sexual practices than any other country; the fact that we have the seediest and most virulently thriving red light districts in the world is proof enough of that.

The repression is in our minds, most people in India are taught to consider sex as something dirty. The libido of an average male is not decreased by this but is confused and mutated and multiplied to an unnatural extent. This building up causes men to suffer from gargantuan performance anxieties and misconceptions. Many tend to lapse into comfort zones of sub-conscious homosexuality, while others start disparaging the women as vile and abhorring sex doing it as a sort of punishment on their woman.

Battling with all these deep rooted complexes the Indian male is a rabid consumer of pornography. His ability to derive voyeuristic pleasure out of any bit of a female form is probably unique in the world. This leads to an objectifying of woman to really dangerous levels. How many of us have heard of instances of men ejaculating on women in crowded buses. Is it any wonder that in the matter of gender equality Indians as a people leave a lot to be desired?

With the prevalence of internet and digital technology, the Indian male has taken a new form to vent his frustrations. The digital porn movie circuit in India is beyond the control of any kind of establishment. No amount of government crackdowns is going to quell the flow of Indian pornography. One marked difference that the new digital porn has from the old celluloid porn is that it is more intelligent and has distilled years of pornographic experimentation. Now the guy who used to watch pornography is empowered to make his own porn video. It has developed into a community that transcends state wise boarders. Porn is truly democratic now, it’s made and distributed by the people for the people. The recent trend of MMS’s and amateur porn videos is blossoming with the strong distribution network that such a community can afford. There doesn’t seem to be much point in trying to curb these ‘porno cowboys’, what is required is to address the underlying reasons that keep these enterprises going. The hypocrisy and double-standards in our sexual practices have to be addressed and talked about more often and more in the open.

At this point it is interesting to note that there are 45,80,000 HIV positive cases in this country, this figure is a count only of the detected cases. According to a CIA report there is the possibility that by the year 2008 this number will swell to 2.8 crores. As can be expected of the Indian government, which is very much like the people in terms of attitudes towards matters sexual, this whole thing is being swept under the carpet as an issue raked up by Americans to vilify our culture and heritage.

All you people out there, consider this an appeal, when ever you are tempted to comfortably get disgusted and outraged by the latest music video, MMS or amateur porn video, please consider the state of affairs in our homes, consider how open are you at home about sex, how do you get off, what do you do with your libido? Are you sure that you won’t turn into the drooling perverts you so hate if you let go of your righteous indignation?

Thinking about it is first step in working things out. Once we learn to look into ourselves we won’t be so critical about how the world is. On that Jesus Christ-ian note I leave you, hopefully to your ruminations about your sexual attitudes.