Sex it up! Promotional activity and image-building around the S-word is rampant as filmmakers take up taboo topics
Director Shoojit Sirkar shifted focus to something Hindi films have never tackled before when he chose to zero in on sperm donation for the plot of his thoroughly enjoyable comedy.
Sirkar, who has defined his effort as ‘a hygienic film with hilarious moments’, admits he was highlighting ‘a subject that was traditionally discussed behind closed doors’.
The observation itself highlights an interesting trend. Bollywood is opening its door to a whole lot of things that were strictly no-no till even a couple of years ago.
Vicky Donor after all is not a one-off example of Bollywood’s all-new bold turn. Released along with the film last week was Vivek Agnihotri’s Hate Story, billed as the industry’s first erotic thriller. You could have reservations over whether Hate Story actually lived up to its hardsell tag. Critics as well as the audience found nothing erotic about the film, which unfolded as a routine revenge saga of a girl who has been wronged – with some teasing steamy scenes and cuss dialogues that didn’t exactly shock.
The point to note is that Hate Story producer Vikram Bhatt could actually think of promoting his film as an erotic thriller – a genre that Bollywood by and large shied away from till not long ago.
The Hindi screen seems ready to celebrate sex and sexuality, just as a top actress like Katrina Kaif doesn’t mind doing the raunchy booty shake in her Chikni Chameli item dance for Agneepath. Think hard, and it is impossible to come up with an example of a top actress strutting her stuff the way hot Kat did in her Chikni avatar. Such a grind, till only recently, would normally be left for Rakhi Sawant or Kashmera Shah – the quintessential ‘item dancer’ who was supposed to do the risqué jig that heroines avoided.
The liberal shift in mindset is also evident from the warm reception Sunny Leone has been accorded to in Bollywood.
Sunny, a Canadian porn star of Indian origin, made no attempt to hide her real calling right from her launch as a housemate on Bigg Boss last year. She bagged Jism 2 on the show and has managed to sign the Ragini MMS sequel now. Sunny is not the first actress with that sort of a background. Several top heroines hailing from the South have been known to have dabbled with the soft porn industry before making it big in Hindi films. Sunny’s case, however, stands out because of the way her publicists – as well as the PR machinery driving Jism 2 – have played up her porn roots for maximum impact.
PAOLI DAM IN HATE STORY
QUICK CHECK: The PR machinery didn’t hesitate to hardsell the film as an erotic thriller.
Hate Story was billed as Bollywood’s first major erotic thriller, which itself was a brave thing to do considering erotica and open discussion of sex is still considered a no-no in Bollywood.
The film itself has however flattered to deceive. It is obvious the steamy scenes are nothing beyond what Bollywood has already shown in the past, and the smattering of cuss-words so grossly highlighted in the promos are nothing but publicity stunts.
The much-hyped nudity has also gone missing. If Hate Story is special, it is because of the fact that the film may have triggered off a new marketing mantra in Bollywood – one that does not hesitate to project sex as a saleable formula.
AYUSHMANN KHURANA IN VICKY DONOR
QUICK CHECK: Ayushmann played a sperm donor in Shoojit Sirkar’s comedy, Vicky Donor.
The sperm donor as a social messiah has probably been the most unconventional depiction of the Bollywood hero out to save the world. In a society where artificial insemination and sperm donation are still considered as taboo topics, the film set out to tackle the subject at hand without inhibition and with a feel-good, rom-com feel.
The `5-crore flick managed to garner `6.25 crore within two days, which is a fair indication of the fact that its target audience – the urban multiplex crowd – has accepted the film despite its bold theme. Sirkar also managed to paint an endearing picture of culture clash, since the hero is a strapping Lajpat Nagar Punjabi and the heroine a sophisticated Bengali from CR Park.
MIA UYEDA & KUNAL KHEMU IN BLOOD MONEY
QUICK CHECK: The ‘item bed scene’ makes its mark.
Leaked online bits of Kunal Khemu’s bed scene with Mia Uyeda grabbed eyeballs for Blood Money more than anything else. The bed scene can at best be dubbed as a glam accessory considering the film wasn’t about sex but the film’s publicists acted smartly to play it up as a hardsell point.
KATRINA KAIF IN THE AGNEEPATH ITEM DANCE, CHIKNI CHAMELI
QUICK CHECK: Katrina was a top actress doing a raunchy item dance.
Top actresses doing item numbers has become commonplace, but not many reigning divas would have done Chikni Chameli. The whole idea of the number, after all, was cutting a risqué picture. In Bollywood, where image is allimportant, actresses gunning for the numero uno spot were so far known to steer clear of overtly raunchy portrayals – even if it is only a dance.
Simply for that reason, a sexy laavni where the booty shake leaves very little room for sophisticated sensuousness could perhaps be considered the prerogative of the item girl till not long ago (it’s not for nothing that a livid Rakhi Sawant is on record stating Katrina was only copying her moves in Chikni Chameli). Katrina, however, has re-hauled the trend with her chikni item gig.
SUNNY LEONE IN JISM 2
QUICK CHECK: Jism 2 is definitely the first Hindi film to have openly announced its heroine’s original identity as a porn star.
There have been stray whispers in the past of Bollywood actresses having dabbled with soft porn cinema before they made it big. All of which was always carefully kept under wraps – the porn star as a Bollywood heroine was simply not acceptable for the masses. In the eighties, at least two top actresses hailing from the South were known to have worked in the Malayalam soft porn industry before they became mainstream Bollywood superstars.
Sunny Leone has changed all that. In fact, her identity as an adult actress was played to the gallery by the producers of last season’s Bigg Boss as well as Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, who produce Jism 2. Sunny incidentally has signed Ragini MMS 2 even before her debut film opens.