Adult content in Bengali cinema: II
Adult content in Bengali cinema: I: : At present it covers the period 1931-2009. In time we hope to cover the period before 1931 as well.
Adult content in Bengali cinema: II: 2010 to the present.
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An illustrated history of nudity in Bengali cinema
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Note: ALL illustrations in this article have been permitted for exhibition by India's Central Board for Film Certification ('censor board').
Adult films in Bengali
Dola Mitra writes, ' Almost all Bengali releases in these recent years, whether arthouse or mainstream, either have sexual content, that is, at least one love-making or intimate scene, or have themes that revolve around eroticism or sexuality..'
Indeed, since around 2005 there has been an accelerated trend towards adult content in Bengali cinema.
9 per cent of all Bengali feature films released in 2008 were given ‘A’ (for adults only certificates); by 2010 the percentage had shot up to 13.6 per cent.
Birsa Dasgupta and Ribhu Dasgupta are among those making films about modern sexuality. Their father, veteran filmmaker Raja Dasgupta, attributes the new morality to greater exposure to world cinema. Directors want to examine the human mind--including sexuality.
A second reason is that a growing section of Bengali audiences wants adult content.
Thirdly, the censor board has got more liberal.
Fourthly, there is the overseas market. Q makes his money there. So do adult films like Memories in March (2010/ dir: Sanjoy Nag) which is about a mother discovering the alternative sexuality of her dead son, and Urochithi (2011). The latter did well in Bengal as well--which is not the norm for adult films. Sex does not always sell.
As in central India and even the West, mass audiences in Bengal remain conservative. Therefore, commercial films, especially the potboilers, remain oriented towards families.
Sex as an act of martyrdom
In Bengal, as in the rest of India, traditionally it was not done for a Hindu character-especially a woman--to enjoy sex outside marriage. (Christian and tribal women were different. At the other end, onscreen Muslims had never heard of sex.)
The adultery of the eponymous heroine of Paroma (1984) was described as her tapasya (stern religious penance).
The outwardly liberated Paoli Dam, too, felt obliged to go through similar justification, circa 2013. About Chatrak she said, 'See, the film is much more than the oral sex scene. It has a political, romantic and social angle.' [That is how even U.S. men would justify their Playboy subscription: 'it has high class literature, liberal trade union politics, serious analytical articles...')
Shukno Lanka (2010)
Written, directed by Gaurav Pandey, starring Mithun Chakraborty, Debashree Roy and Sabyasachi Chakrabarty.
A film is about show business, Shukno Lanka, has a sexually charged scene
This acclaimed film is about the travails of an ageing junior artiste. Veteran actress Debashree Roy plays a filmmaker’s wife. She resents his young mistress and goes t extra mile to win him back. She has an erotic seuquence with actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty.
Rii’s Cosmic Sex in Gandu (2010)
My life is so abnormal. I live with my boyfriend who is named Q and directs me in films for which he asks me to suck another man’s cock. They are completely head-fucked.-Rii, quoted by Live Mint.
Rii (Rituparna Sen), who had gone nude for 'Gandu (2010)' six months before Paoli stripped, maintained what The Times of India called “a dignified silence all through the frontal nudity debate.” In other words, she did not go about giving statements to the effect that she was the first to have done it in Bengal, or whatever. She was quoted as having said, “Yes, there's lack of awareness about "Gandu" in Kolkata but I don't want to indulge in a petty game of who went nude first. Talking of Indian cinema, Seema Biswas had done it in "Bandit Queen".”
She told The Times of India “I've gone for full frontal nudity in both Q's Gandu (2010) Bengali banned and Amitabh Chakraborty's yet-unfinished "Cosmic Sex". Women's sexuality is dealt with in both films and I'm happy that I have been able to use my body for a great cinematic purpose… My characters are close to reality and there's no harm if I keep using my body over and over again to portray the real… I was the first to have worn a bikini on television…Sexuality is all about women power. So far, films have been from a man's perspective… Be it "Gandu (2010)" or "Chatrak ", both are a slap on society face.”
Rii described Protima Bedi's streaking (naked jogging) on Juhu beach in the 1970s as a desire ‘to break free from the shackles of a patriarchal society.’
Regarding Paoli’s scene, Rii said, ‘I am sure some people, who've seen the footage, will dub Paoli as a porn star. That's because they don't know how else to react. C'mon, the porn industry, with its big budget and professional actors, is also thriving today.’
There also is an independent, updated page on Gandu (2010)
Gandu (2010) is a low- budget ‘art’ film in Bengali, much of it filmed in crisp, well photographed black and white. There is a lovemaking scene in colour. Its DVDs are not available legally in India and, from all accounts, it has not been screened commercially in India.
Q is the pseudonym of director Qaushik Mukherjee. (See Q (Kaushik Mukherjee))
Gandu is a North Indian word derived from the Hindi-Bengali term for derriere. Its nearest English equivalent is ‘asshole’ and it implies a male who receives anal sex.
It was the first Bengali film with full-frontal nudity and the second Indian film after Trishagni. Not since Mera Naam Joker has an actress clearly been seen fully naked from behind either. (Parampar was somewhat hazy. The director and photographer saw her naked; the audience had to guess.)
Audience reaction to Gandu (2010) was not very different from that to India’s other famous nudity-oriented films (Chitkabrey, Siddhartha, Rang Rasiya, Mr Singh…, Maya…): they were bored. Many viewers could reportedly not sit through Gandu (2010) at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film has also been shown at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York and at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Mukherjee is reported to have said that ‘70% of [the film had] to be about sex." Most audiences want some sex with a story around it—which Gandu (2010) has, and some viewers have even appreciated its narration.
Gandu, Nandini Ramnath writes, was never meant to be released (in India): and it was not. Because its budget was microscopic, what it earns in foreign territories (through the British sales and distribution agency, Jinga Films) more than recovers costs. Chakraborty also subsidises his “cheap [budgets of Rs.25-30 lakh] and dirty pictures about sexual, social or political extreme content that otherwise can’t be made” through films like Tasher Desh (based on Rabindranath Tagore’s play, and exhibited within India as well). He has two label Bangla Black, for offbeat films, and Overdose Films.
Amitabh Chakraborty’s shoe-string budget (Rs.80 lakh) Cosmic Sex was premiered to a full-house of at the Osian’s-Cinefan film festival in Delhi in 2012. It was the first feature film that he made after his debut film, the off-beat Kaal Abhirati (1989).
Nandini Ramnath writes: ‘Cosmic Sex includes ideas previously explored by 53-year-old Amitabh Chakraborty in his 2006 [own] documentary Bishar Blues, about Bengal’s Muslim fakir tradition. A young man named Kripa encounters a prostitute, a eunuch and, most crucially, a female ascetic named Sadhana on his journey of sexual self-discovery. Kripa’s experiences unfold as a reverie amid a mythic landscape that is identifiably the Bengal of wandering ascetics and miracle workers.
Reason for nudity/ sex
“Cults like the fakirs and the Bauls feel that sexual energy is the most powerful force that flows outwards all the time, because of which there are manifestations of happiness, unhappiness and death,” Chakraborty says at his home in Kolkata. “The only way to get out of this is to reverse the sexual energy. You have to go back to the unchanging energy source.”
2011: Paoli Dam becomes a cunning linguist
In 2011 Paoli Dam pushed the boundary even further. Not only did she go completely naked in Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara’s controversial Chhatrak (Mushroom in English/ 2011), the scene involved oral sex. The film had a red carpet screening at Cannes’ 64th International Film Festival and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
She described the sequence thus to Munibor, ‘See, it’s a full nude scene and I have done it because I was convinced that the scene is required to take the story forward. It isn’t there just to titillate. Incidentally my character’s name too is Paoli in the film! Now Paoli’s boyfriend (Sudip Mukherjee) lives far away and to fill the vacuum she gets physically involved with a young guy (Anubrata)… and indulges in oral sex! ... I was completely nude. So was my co-star and in the scene the girl is getting all the pleasure! ...We don’t wear clothes and make love, do we? Then why should we do that in cinema? Ei nyakamogulo aar koto din (How long will we carry on like this)?’
Paoli Dam did the scene though she knew that the Indian censor board would not allow it and that that particular scene would be available only on DVD. The scene was not shown at the Cannes screening either.
After Chhatrak Paoli Dam received an offer to act in Italian director Italo Spinelli’s Choli Ke Peechhe ,which she rejected because “the sex scene there was forced and [she] was not convinced.” Actresses Nandana Sen and Shahana Goswami, too, had turned down the role.
Paoli describes herself as a very traditional girl who grew up in a joint family and had a very good academic record, She could have pursued academics. It was her mother who encouraged her to take up acting. Paoli is a post-graduate in Chemistry and attracted attention in Gautam Ghose’s Kaalbela.
Jayasundara is an alumnus of Film and Television Institute, Pune. In 2005 he became the first Sri Lankan filmmaker to win the Camera d'Or at Cannes for his film The Forsaken Land.
Chhatrak came at a heavy price for Paoli, especially in the Bengali film industry. Not only did she lose friends because of the nude scene, she lost film roles. Her name was officially removed from the publicity materials of Pritam Sarkar’s Flop-e because its makers felt that her newfound sex-bomb image could harm the commercial prospects of 'Flop-e'.
Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona (2011)
This was a 'U' (universal exhibition) film
W, d: Anjan Dutt
P: Rana Sarkar
An ageing rockstar has a crush on his protege
D: Shiboprasad Mukherjee , Nandita Roy
W: Suchitra Bhattacharya
P: Rakesh Singh
The film was a box office success
Bidita Bag (born 1990) reminds us that she did almost-nude shots during [her] modelling days.” This film has a scene where her “passionate” kiss arouses sexual jealousy in her boyfriend’s mother.
Aparajita Tumi (2012)
Dir: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Dialogue & screenplay: Shyamal Sengupta
Producer: Ronnie Lahiri, Shoojit Sircar
The film deals with infidelity and contemporary sexual mores
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury looks at love, sexuality and infidelity. His Antaheen had won the national award for best film.
Charulata 2011 (2012)
Director: Agnidev Chatterjee.
Writer: Rabindranath Tagore: based on his novel Nashtanir
The film is about a woman seeking her own identity through sexuality.
The heroine plays Footsie in the film,
Rituparna Sengupta and Dibyendu Mukherjee go through love-making that are elaborate by Indian standards.
w, d: Mainak Bhoumik
p: Rana Sarkar
Deb plays an actor [Rudranil Ghosh] who is constantly seeking new sexual partners: ideally he wants a new and willing woman every day
Director Bhoumik shows the sexual mores of a certain class of people in modern metropolitan Calcutta, including complicated relationships.
W, d: Rituparno Ghosh
producer Shrikant Mohta, Mahendra Soni
Actors Jisshu Sengupta and Rituparno himself—playing gay lovers—have intimate love-making scenes.
Koyekti Meyer Golpo (2012)
Producer: Algos Entertainment
Writer-director: Subrata Sen
Cast: Subrat Dutt, Parno Mitra, Raima Sen, Tanushree Chakraborty, Locket Chatterjee, Mumtaz Sorcar, Mita Chatterjee
The film is about four young women who work for an escort agency: i) Molly (Parno Mitra), who becomes the muse of Ashesh (Subrat Dutt), a blind writer, and helps him recover his creativity. ii and iii) The aggressive Pooja (Tanushree Chakraborty) and the newbie (Raima Sen), who blackmail an industrialist. Pooja propositions a potential client at a pub. iv) The newcomer to the trade (Raima Sen) is there because of heartbreak.
The rough, middle aged escort agency’s owner’s substantially younger wife (Mumtaz Sorcar) is a bisexual and does drugs.
All this allows the film to show lesbian sex, rape and ‘sexual exploitation.’
Writer, Director Gaurav Pandey
Producer Namit Bajoria
The film is about love in the times of the internet and web cameras.
A village school teacher, AnjaniPutra Sensharma (Prosenjit Chatterjee), becomes an internet friend of someone called Maria Fischer (Saskia Ranwig) who supposedly lives in Reykjavik, Iceland. Through their webcam connection AnjaniPutra watches a masked man murder Maria. This traumatises him. He sets out to solve the murder. He sells ancestral land to pay for the trip to Iceland. But there he discovers that Maria never lived where she claimed she did.
An actress called Doel Mitra (Swastika Mukherjee) is discovered to have acted nude in a Finnish pornographic film: and her life and that of her young daughter change forever because of the notoriety.
The directors and actors
In films like Dohon and Doshor Rituparno Ghosh explores sexual aberrations and alternate sexual identities.
Ushashie, who played Ipshita, a journalist, in Mainak Bhaumik's Bedroom, is already drawing created ripples with her sex scenes with leading man Rudranil Ghosh, even though she was not in the nude. Ushashie believes that “Whether I bare or not depends on a film’s script and director.”
Mainak Bhaumik made Bengal’s first sex comedy Aamra (2006).
Paoli is among the most explicit of Kolkata's actresses. She has done intimate scenes in Kaalbela (2009/ dir: Gautam Ghose), Thana Theke Aschhi (2010/ dir: Sharon Datta) and Kagojer Bou (2011/ dir: Bappaditya Bandyopadhyay).
Swastika Mukherjee has shown fair amounts of skin in Tabe Tai Hok (dir: Saugata Ray Barman) and Maach, Mishti ’n’ More.
An ageing rockstar (Anjan Dutta) has the hots for Parno in Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona; (2011); while in Ekla Akash she is the young married woman with a crush on a professor who is older than she is. In Bedroom she has sizzling moments.
In Ekla Akash the Debleena character has sex with a married man