The Censor Board may be seeing red over adult content in films, but is it time for them to wake up and smell the coffee? Films which are generously sprinkled with sex and A-rated stuff have been taking the box office by storm, the latest being ‘Ek Paheli Leela’ starring Sunny Leone. The movie, labelled a semi-porn venture by many critics, apparently had a bigger first-day opening than Anushka Sharma’s ‘NH10’.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt says, “Sex has always been used as a magnet by filmmakers to draw people to the cinema halls. India has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 3,000 years. The moral references of our society have undergone a drastic change. We have certainly become more permissive.”
Agrees Tanuj Garg, former CEO of Balaji Motion Pictures: “There exists a ready market for erotica provided it is well done, tasteful and within a budget. There are limited or no satellite prospects for this genre, increasing the dependence on theatre takings.”
Everyone does it
There was a time when directors making films with adult content were differentiated from the regular ones. From Ekta Kapoor to Aamir Khan, most filmmakers are now peppering their films with A-rated material if that’s what it takes to lure the crowds to the theatres. A kiss here, an under-the-sheets scene there, Hindi films are taking the risqué route. And trade pundits foresee a definitive growth in this genre with many upcoming projects gearing up to bait in the audience — Mastizaade, ‘XXX’, ‘Kuch Kuch Locha Hai’ and the third instalments of ‘Masti’ and ‘Kyaa Kool Hain Hum’.
Attempting to up the ante, Ekta Kapoor’s upcoming production venture ‘XXX’ is looking at setting new benchmarks in Hindi cinema. The actors who will feature in the film will have to sign a nudity clause and not be allowed to question anything. The contract implies that any artiste signing up to work in the film in question becomes legally bound to expose as much as he or she is asked to, according to the demands of the script. The clause also covers shooting intimate scenes and the use of explicit language.
Film writer Dilip Thakur says, “Sex is not a taboo anymore and therefore, filmmakers are ready to make such films and artistes are willing to be a part of it. Earlier, A-list filmmakers steered clear of adult films as they were concerned about their social image, and felt it was the domain of B-grade directors. Right from the ’70s, such films have always attracted people who stay away from their families and it is the same crowd that watches those films even today.”
There are two sub-genres that filmmakers are experimenting with, says media expert Shailesh Kapoor. “One is erotica like ‘Ragini MMS 2’ or ‘Hate Story 2’, and the other is adult comedies like ‘Grand Masti’ and ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum’. Both have the same audience base — young males in the 18-24 age group, hailing from the middle and lower middle income groups, especially in the smaller centres,” he adds.
Kapoor points out that adult-rated movies nowadays get much bigger openings than well-promoted films like ‘Shamitabh’ or ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’. “Even ‘Ek Paheli Leela’, which did not set the box office on fire, opened at R4 crore, something that most star-studded films this year have struggled to reach,” he explains.
Director Bhushan Patel, who helmed ‘Jism 2’ starring Sunny Leone, says, “India is obsessed with sex. Our population proves that. We just deliver what the nation wants.”
City-based psychiatrist, Dr Harish Shetty feels the lack of intimacy between couples in a fast-paced world has led to greater demand for “voyeuristic orgasms” as a substitute. “Bedroom fantasies now need to be watched live. The Victorian era hypocrisy is gradually dying,” he adds.
Exhibitor Rajesh Thadani says the rise of adult content in films is market-driven.
“It is safe to play with this genre these days. Besides, with the satellite market having crashed, filmmakers don’t have to think twice about showing skin in their films,” he reasons.
Note of dissent
Trade analyst Vikas Mohan does not quite agree with the view that sex always sells. “If that was the case then films like Hunterrr would have done well. Filmmakers like B R Ishara brought sex on the menu of Hindi cinema and those films had content that connected with the audience and did not involve skin show or the use of expletives,” he argues.
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