Adult content in Hindi-Urdu cinema
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An illustrated history of nudity in Indian cinema
While this page, as its main title suggests, is about Hindi-Urdu cinema, there are two references to nudity in Marathi cinema and one each to nudity in Bengali and Kannada cinema.
Note: ALL illustrations in this article have been permitted for exhibition by India's Central Board for Film Certification ('censor board'). Mera Naam Joker and Ram teri Ganga maili, which are the most explicit of the lot, were passed for Universal exhibition.
i) Director Kidar Sharma talks about the famous bathing scene from Chitralekha (1941)
ii) Stripped to the bare essentials
By Shoma A Chatterji ATimes Jul 10, 2003
iii) Topless scenes in movies The Times of India
In India, sex does not sell
While there have been several attempts to show nudity in Indian cinema in general, and Hindi-Urdu cinema in particular, filmmakers perhaps shot those scenes for their personal pleasure. More than half those scenes were chopped off by the censors. Of those that made it to the screen, films that included them flopped miserably. Only Ram Teri Ganga Maili was a hit while Satyam Shivam Sundaram did so-so, both by positioning themselves for B-audiences. Dastak did well for its budget.
The biggest hits in the history of Indian cinema, from Mughal e Azam to Sholay and Hum aapke Hain Koun? have all been squeaky clean.
Meenakshi Shirodkar, who belonged to a thitherto-conservative Maharashtrian Brahmin family, created a furor in 1938 when she appeared a swimming costume in Master Vinayak’s Marathi/ Hindi film Brahmachari.It was Meenakshi Shirodkar's debut film. She had worked in the theatre before. The swimsuit sequence occurs during the song "Yamuna Jali Khelu Khel" (I play games with the water of River Yamuna) in which Kishori (Meenakshi Shirodkar) tries to lead the celibate hero Audumbar away from the straight and narrow, while bathing on the embankment of the Yamuna.
As will be seen from the sequence of photographs on this page,first Meenakshi's feet and calves appeared in a long, seductive reaser; then the playful heroine herself appeared in her full height; and then cavorted in the river so that we got to see her back.
The song was much talked about for years, mostly with nudges, winks and sniggers among men and scandalisation among women and conservative men.
Director Kidar Sharma recalls about the famous bathing scene from Chitralekha (1941): "In this film, I had even bared a beauty on the silver screen for the first time with such finesse, in a bathing scene by Miss Mehtab, that nothing was revealed, but it created an illusion of great feminine charm.
"Before we started shooting the bathing scene, I took my heroine Mehtab aside and explained to her how and why I was doing the scene. She said, “If the story demands this scene, I see no vulgarity in it, and so I am not afraid to strip, because we have no ugliness to hide. However I do have one condition. I consider my director to be just like my father and I will only strip if you ask everyone to clear the set. Since you are a good photographer yourself, please ask the cameraman to set the lights and the camera using a double, and when the set is cleared of everyone, you will be the only one with me and I will gladly perform. When you say the word action I will strip and enter the marble tub and enact the scene where I have to wash my body with a lotus flower till I hear the word `cut’… but there should be no retakes.” I agreed and Mehtab gracefully and beautifully performed.
"All the critics, barring K.A. Abbas and the correspondent of Deen Duniya, a magazine published from Delhi, panned it ruthlessly. They called it vulgar. "
The film had a sequence in which Sunil Dutt and Sadhana, actress were in adjacent shower rooms of a hotel swimming pool. A wooden wall separated the two, who had what in 1965 was considered a sexually-charged conversation through this wall, as Sadhana, actress tried to take off her swimsuit.
See Sadhana, actress
Mera Naam Joker
In the first segment of Raj Kapoor's three-part Mera Naam Joker (1970) young Rishi Kapoor is tormented by guilt at having seen his teacher (played by Simi Garewal) in the nude. In his thoughts we see quick flashes of the naked back, including derriere, of a totally naked woman who is either Garewal or her body double, naked or in a body suit. The legal version of the film posted on YouTube contains this scene. In the third segment, Padmini's nipples can be seen through a wet sari. The film was passed for Universal exhibition.
In Dastak (1970) when audiences saw debutante Rehana Sultan's back, her hand cupped over her breast youtube. And that is what toplessness has generally meant in Indian cinema: a bare back. The film was certified for Adults Only.
The 197Os: Topless scenes: mostly deleted for Indian audiences
The first Indian film that claimed to have a topless scene was O.P. Ralhan's Hulchul (1971). The actress Sonia Sahni played Kabir Bedi's wife in the film. In the scene she is having a bubble bath in a bathtub when she gets a telephone call from a stranger saying that he husband is having an affair. This causes her to jump out of the bathtub, her breasts bare. The scene never got shown in India.
Faryal did a topless scene in Buniyaad (1972): all we could see was her bare back. Spoilsport Shatrughan Sinha stood between her bare breasts and the audience.
In B.R. Ishara's Zaroorat (1972) Reena Roy, also a debutante, was seen from above, naked except for a panty. Again, her breasts could not be seen. Therefore, as in Dastak, the scene got past the Indian censors.
Shoma A Chatterji informs us that in V Shantaram's Channi (perhaps Chaani / 1977) starring Ranjana, 'there was an abominable scene where a psychopath makes love to the nude corpse of the heroine.' (The scene was deleted from the version that Indpaedia's correspondent has seen.)
Be-abroo (1983), a C-film, had debutante Apeksha in a topless scene, but again no breasts were visible.
In 1984 the now-defunct film magazine Star & Style announced that three 'dedicated' actresses had decided to act in topless scenes. Neena Gupta in Girish Karnad-Shashi Kapoor's Utsav (1984), Rohini Hattiangady in Govind Nihalani's Party (1984) and Sarika in an unreleased arthouse film by Jalal Agha. At least Indian audiences never got to see the fruits of their dedication.
Raj Kapoor: getting away with more than other directors
In Raj Kapoor's Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (1978) Zeenat Aman's breasts were seen, as in the same filmmaker's Joker eight years before, through a wet sari, which proved that she had the periodic bath. Not content with that, Kapoor got Aman to bend over so that viewers knew that she did not have a stiff back (and medical students could examine her breast from the side). He got her to change her bodice before the audience so that they were reassured that she did not wear the same clothes all day.
Kapoor repeated the nipples-through-wet-sari formula in Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). See Hindi-Urdu cinema: 1980-89 However, he added two breast feeding scenes, joining WHO's worldwide campaign to promote breast feeding. In the second of those scenes the baby removes its mouth, giving Indian audiences the first uncovered nipple in Indian cinema. Along with Siddhartha (1972) and Hiss (both of which, officially are American films) and Trishagni (in which the nude actress' face is not shown, so it might have been a body double) this remains the only film to actually show a bare breast. Otherwise, to repeat, 'topless' scenes in India mean bare backs. So far. 'Kamasutra 3D' promises to change all that. It might be the first Indian film where we get to see digitally blurred breasts in all of 3D (having first seen airbrushed breasts in 2D in Mr Singh... ).
Padmini Kolhapure played the young Zeenat in SSS. Therefore, a few years later, as a teenager, she had no objection to being photographed naked from behind for a religious-exorcism scene for Gehrayee (1980). The scene got through the censors partly because her long hair covered much of her back and partly because it was passed off as a religious ritual.
Trishagni (1988), a discursive arthouse film about lust and longing in a Central Asian Buddhist in ancient times, had the first full-frontal nude scene in the history of Indian cinema to get past the Indian censors. YouTube. It showed actress Pallavi Joshi or her body double have a bath, but the actress' face is not seen. Nothing is airbrushed. With dialogues in heavily Sanskritised Hindi, the film was such a non-starter at the box office that even at the time hardly anyone was aware that there was such a film.
In 1814 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres painted a backless Grande Odalisque -.
Kasba had a similar scene, which, is not on the VCD. Can any reader help?
India Today reported in its October 31, 1991 issue, ‘Recently [Doordarshan] screened Kumar Shahani's evocative film, Kasba. Obviously, some of the film [the topless scene] had been cut but suddenly on the little screen there was actress Mita Vasisht sitting up in bed, nude from the waist up, in a pose inspired by Ingres' iconic painting, Odalisque. ’
Though the censors allowed Deepa Sahi breasts pass in her real-life husband Ketan Mehta's Maya Memsaab (1993), neither nudity not superstar Shah Rukh Khan could save the film from box-office disaster.
The Seema Biswas character in Bandit Queen (1994) was seen completely naked in a shot taken from above. Seema Biswas pointed out that a body double had been used. 'Bandit Queen was a commercial as well as critical success.
2010: Mr Singh/Mrs Mehta
Mr Singh/Mrs Mehta, which is about an artist and his nude model (played by Aruna Shields, a British-Indian actress) had prolonged full-frontal nude scenes, the breasts digitally blurred. Unlike Trishagni, the film got a commercial release, albeit a disastrous one. But it, too, remains almost unknown in India. Its DVD is freely available but mostly purchased by insomniacs looking for non-chemical methods to send them to sleep.
Topless in the 21st century
The Times of India ’s Indiatimes wrote in January 2014 “There has been an increasing trend in showcasing topless scenes in Bollywood movies of late. Heroines are no more afraid to drop clothes and go bold as per the demand of the script. Even though the censor board has been strict in handling such issues, there have been few hits and misses.”
If the reader understands that in India 'topless' means that the director, cameraman and co-star feast their eyes but audiences get to see no more than bare backs, that in India 'topless' has almost always meant 'backless' (except for Hisss and Mr Singh...), then we can examine the extent of nudity seen in the 21st century films mentioned in Indiatimes’ list as well as others’ lists:
Apartment: Indiatimes informs us that Neetu Chandra went completely nude for a bathing scene in the film Apartment. (Not that the audiences saw it all)
Aurangzeb: Sasha, daughter of Salma Agha: topless with Arjun Kapoor in Aurangzeb.
Chitkabrey: Akshara Gowda and Russian actress Svetlana were seen in all-nude love-making scenes, but audiences saw mostly their backs. Svetlana’s breasts were seen, though.
Chokher Bali: Aishwarya Rai removed her top but audiences saw this only from behind.
Gangster: Kangana Ranaut was seen topless from behind.
Hate Story: Paoli Dam was seen topless from behind.
Hisss: Indiatimes informs us: ‘Sexy siren Mallika Sherawat indulged in frontal nudity in the film Hisss.’ (Yes, her bare breasts could be seen in the poster, but then this was an American, not Indian, film.)
Jail: Mugdha Godse Indiatimes was seen topless from behind in Madhur Bhandarkar's eponymous film.
Jism 2: Indiatimes informs us: ‘Pornstar-turned-Bollywood actress Sunny Leone left little to imagination while indulging in intimate acts with Randeep Hooda’.
Julie: Neha Dhupia was seen topless from behind.
Kamasutra 3D: Indiatimes informs us: ‘The ultimate sex-bomb of India Sherlyn Chopra is all set to live up to her reputation in the film Kamasutra 3D. When it comes to dropping clothes in front of the camera, the actress seem to have almost zero inhibitions.’ Her bare breast sequences seen so far have been digitally airbrushed.
Kurbaan: Kareena Kapoor was seen topless from behind.
Kites: Barbara Mori was seen topless from behind, with Hrithik Roshan.
Mr. Singh / Mrs. Mehta: Aruna Sheilds was seen naked, though digitally airbrushed.
Murder 3 (2013): Pakistani actress Sara Loren was seen topless from behind with Randeep Hooda.
Murder: Mallika Sherawat was seen topless from behind.
Nasha: Indiatimes informs us: ‘Poonam Pandey displayed her hot bod to the max in her debut film.’ However, from what has been seen so far, as usual the director, cameraman and co-star had their eyeful but audiences will only see bare backs.
Rascals: Lisa Hayden was seen topless from behind.
Tango Charlie: topless from behind.
Zeher: Udita Goswami was seen topless from behind.
Zindagi 50--50: Pakistani actress Veena Malik was seen topless from behind.
The Times of India writes: Gone are the days when actresses used to woo audience from behind their veils. From main stream actresses to even some actors, no one hesitates in baring it all. While some may call it as the demand of the script, some just shed it all for publicity. Let's take a look at B'town actresses who went topless for movie posters.
[However, as in the films, in India 'steamy' means that the actress is topless or naked during the shoot but the viewer gets to only as much in a bikini, the private parts being covered by some object.]
Kareena Kapoor grabbed eyeballs with the first poster of Saif Ali Khan starrer 'Kurbaan'. Kareena dared to bare her topless self leaving the rest to the viewer's imagination. Directed by Rensil D'Silva, the film was a romantic thriller based on terrorism and had Kareena and her then boyfriend Saif Ali Khan, sharing a thrilling moment in the poster. Saif and Kareena's lip lock too made headlines for quite some time. Kareena allegedly had requested the director to delete the sex scenes from the movie as she was worried about how her parents would take it. Many Shiv Sena activists tore down Kurbaan posters stating that the posters were immoral and could corrupt the mind of children and women.
[File: Sweetlana-Manolyo-Chitkabrey.jpg|Russian actress Sweetlana Manolyo's breasts were probably not censored from Chitkabrey (2011) because she is not Indian. |frame|500px]]
Neha Dhupia Bollywood's hottest bombshell Neha Dhupia made headlines with a steamy poster in Julie. The actress was shown with a bare back covering her essentials in a silk pink cover. Julie which delved on the aspect of lesbian relationships, also had Amrita Arora and Neha Dhupia in lead roles. The film received flak by many sections of the society for its overtly bold content and steamy sex scenes. But Neha Dhupia, surely knew how to sell a film
Paoli Dam shocked everyone with her bold and sexually explicit role in 'Hate Story'. The actress also posed topless for the poster of the film, sitting on a man's lap in a sensuous position. Touted as the first onscreen erotica of Bollywood, the plot revolved around a reporter who is abused by a wealthy man. Paoli also went nude for many explicit sex scenes in the movie. Dialogues like "Main iss sheher ki sabse badi r*ndi banna chaahti hoon (I want to be the biggest whore in this city). I will f*ck all those who f*ck with me," created a furore in the society.
Poonam Pandey is known for shedding off her clothes at the drop of a hat. So when her first Bollywood release 'Nasha' came out it was not much of a surprise. The actress posed nude in the first poster of the movie covering her essentials with a black placard leaving a lot to the viewer's imagination. Though the movie failed to generate a buzz, this poster definitely kept her in the news for sometime.
Sunny Leone Adult star turned actress Sunny Leone did it again. The actress posed nude for the latest poster of Ragini MMS 2. Sunny Leone seems to be completely cashing in on her sexual image. The poster has Sunny stark naked staring into the camera. Ragini MMS 2 is a sequel to Ragini MMS. Well, all we can say is Ragini MMS 2 makers definitely know how make their leading lady be in the news.
[PS Often the 'steamy' scene shown in the posters is not there in the film. Indiuan producers are lucky no one has sued them so far.]
Mamta Kulkarni was perhaps the first Indian film actress to appear topless on the cover of a magazine, in this case the Sept 1993 issue of Stardust Much controversy and lawsuits followed, even though, true to Indian tradition, the only people who got to see Kum. Kulkarni's assets were the photoshoot crew. Readers got only a general impression.
The Cloud Door/ Baadal Dwar, an Indo-German short film in Hindi-Urdu perhaps had the most vivid cheesecake in the history of Indian cinema, including a prolonged topless sequence featuring the heroine Anu Agarwal and full-frontals of some nameless actresses.
Madhu Sapre dropped her kapre for the Tuff shoes campaign (1995).
'Tarzan' (1985) by B Subhash: Kimi Katkar had a wet-blouse scene in the film.
‘Monsoon’ (2001) by Jag Mundhra: Helen Brodie’s debut, ‘Hadh Kar Di Aapne’, was a disaster. Then a year later, Helen Brodie went to LA, to soft porn filmmaker Jag Mundhra’s ‘Monsoon’.
Rang Rasiya (2008): Nandana Sen, daughter of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, played the role of Sugandha Bai, who was the muse of artist Raja Ravi Varma, who painted some nudes.
Nandana Sen received hate mails over her nude scenes. Sen explained that nudity can be portrayed in a dignified way. The actress defended that the way the woman’s body has been portrayed in the movie depicts the power of the women.
Sex on TV does not sell either
Saloni Bhatia, The Times of India, Jun 23 2015 Ratings dip as small screen heats up
TV producers say that despite the hype around consummation scenes, the ratings dip as viewers shy away from watching their onscreen idols get intimate
Consummation scenes on TV are treated like a celebration, so much so, that TV couples wait for at least a year before they decide to take their relationship to the next level.While these tracks are usually treated as high points for the storyline, with a huge build-up around it and promos being aired weeks in advance, they do not end up generating high ratings for the broadcasters, confess producers. Even the makers are flummoxed by this trend.They say that though TV doesn't get too graphic in these scenes, the `semi-sleaze' quotient is expected be the high point for the show, yet it's not enough to generate ratings.
Family audiences shy away from watching consummation scenes
The small screen is a family viewing medium and people get embarrassed while watching consummation scenes with their parents in the confines of their drawing room. Director and producer Ravindra Gautam says, “Even the makers find it ironic. I think that the audience finds the process of the couple coming together very interesting but when they finally do come together, it becomes very predictable for them. It has always been that the consummation episodes see a decline in ratings. I think people in B-cities still shy away from watching such scenes, even though they are not very in-your-face.“
People think of our leads like they are demigods
Producers opine that the leads of a show are regarded in a reverential way and the idea of them making love or getting intimate somehow surprises viewers. Shashi Mittal, producer of Diya Aur Baati Hum, says, “TV sets are usually in the drawing room and people get embarrassed when they see such scenes on their screens. Our programs show the hero and heroine in such a pavitra light that people don't expect them to indulge in such acts. People don't want to see such scenes in their drawing room. It's always the misunderstandings, the dupatta udna sequence or the haath pakadna sequences that give ratings, but consummation scenes don't.The sequences are played up in the hope that they will fetch ratings eventually. Makers assume that if people can go and watch Dostana or Murder 3 with their families, they can also watch such episodes in their drawing rooms. In Diya Aur Baati Hum, the lead pair is revered by audiences like Ram and Sita and people couldn't take it that the pair could consummate their marriage. I remember that even though DABH was the top-rated show at that time (when the leads were about to consummate their marriage), we saw that the rating of that particular episode, when they were shown getting intimate, was the lowest during the week.“
Not only consummation, but adult content is a no-no
Industry insiders say that the moment an adult issue is touched upon in a show, it means that there will be a decline in ratings. Gajra Kottary, writer of Balika Vadhu, says, “It's that whole shyness thing.The whole family tunes in for such shows, but it becomes embarrassing to watch such things with the family . This is why women tend to shoo the children away or decide to watch the show at a time when others are not around. Not that they don't want to watch it, but it becomes very awkward for them. Until recently , when we had an 11pm repeat of Balika Vadhu, we would find that the rating of the repeat telecast was higher than the 8pm slot. We found that if there was some adult content, which viewers know because of the highlights and promos, they would watch late-night repeat. We showed Anandi, when she was a child, getting her first period, which was a logical thing to show . Usually, when girls go through that phase, their mothers explain the bodily process to their daughters, but Anandi was a child bride and was in her sasural during that time.We wanted to explore how a child who doesn't know about this, but has to follow rules and regulations that stop her from entering the kitchen and make it mandatory for her to sleep on the floor, would feel during such an experience. A lot of people asked why we showed such a topic at 8pm, but we wanted to encourage mothers to talk to their daughters about menstruation by highlighting Anandi's plight. We had also touched upon the issue of child abuse in our show, but we have seen that people are a little squeamish about watching such things during prime time.“
Promos might be backfiring
Some believe that highlights of the next day's shows or the sneak-peek before the advertisements, which give viewers a glimpse of such scenes, are respon sible for the low ratings, as the viewers end up changing the channel.Gautam adds, “In theatres, sometimes you don't even know if there's going to be a lovemaking scene in the movie you're watching. For instance, Band Baaja Baaraat had a lovemaking scene something that was not highlighted in the trailers. Once you are inside the cinema hall, you can't leave, but when you are at home, you can simply change the channel because such scenes are promoted well. We have seen that the late-night repeat telecasts see an increase in ratings and now, people even log on to YouTube to watch the shows. When the consum mation scene in Bade Achhe Lagte Hain happened people were surprised to see two middle-aged peo ple making love and the ratings went down because people couldn't handle it. I've shot a lot of consum mation scenes, however, and regardless of the age of the couple, ratings always dip. The perception on TV is that the love story ends after consummation but in reality , consummation is the start of a love story . Most of the time, we plan a consummation scene before the show is about to take a leap and af ter the leap, we show the couple having a child. think the promos might be backfiring because peo ple might think, `Chalo aaj story mein kuch khaa nahi hoga kyunki aaj toh inka consummation hai Chachi aur bua koi game nahi khelenge.'“
We keep delaying consummation subplots
Saurabh Tewari, producer of Phir Bhi Na Maane..Badtameez Dil, “Till we show misunderstandings between a couple or the way in which they fall in love, our show's ratings remain high, but the mo ment we show them making out, we see a fall in rat ings. I have noticed that in almost all my shows, be it in Madhubala Ek Ishq Ek Junoon or Rangrasiya In Rangrasiya, till Rudra and Paro were just mar ried but not physically intimate, it was fine. As soon as they were shown getting intimate, the ratings went for a toss. That is why many a time, makers throw in a twist when the leads are about to come together. The smart ones bring in some misunder standings when the leads are about to unite and then after three months, create that situation again Even the viewers suspect that the consummation scene might not take place because they know tha some or the other hurdle will crop up.“
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