Design, Pop Culture

Dirty Pictures

I’m a small town businessman married with 2 kids, my wife is a private secretary with a local babu (a beaurocrat). After having these kids I’ve lost my appetite for expensive domestic sex, with it also lost my mojo for life in general. I can’t say the same about my wife though, she seems to be getting younger and has even grown a penchant for travel, or so it seems as the Babu has been making more and more trips to Delhi lately. Of course I know she’s sleeping with him but I can’t do anything but cover up for my own impotence by hiding the truth about my wife’s decadence. The problem being she makes it really tough for me. Word’s on the street that she’s also sleeping with the PT teacher in the local school, where my elder daughter studies.

This could be the plot of one of the many C-Grade, morning show type films that are made in our country. It must of course thicken as our protagonist will find his mojo back via a seductive bombshell, his air hostess neighbor who is visiting from the city. He goes to meet her father, who is not at home so he accidentally watches the girl bathing. With her clothes on obviously. A lustfull romance begins with more shower scenes, this time with our pot bellied hairy hero joining her in his striped trunks. As it turns out though, this one’s also  been flying the Babu around on his international trips and is one of his many escorts.

To avenge his honour, our hero goes after the Babu’s wife, who gives into his charm rather tamely.This makes it 3 women showing skin in the movie. Add an item number while the Babu is at a party in Delhi and that’s enough skin to wrap Andre the Giant. With so much to wet their appetite, the audience cares no more about how the story is unfolding and it could very well end with aliens invading the earth, as long as it’s an army of buxom foreigners.

For Raju the 22 year old daily wage labourer this is a blockbuster. Sitting around, on his favorite not so creeky chair, or so he claims he has already given himself a helping hand. It’s convenient as the only other inhabitants here are African flies who’ve inexplicably found their way into this god forsaken single screen in the middle of a humid metropolis.

There are 11,000 such languishing single screens (in India) on last count via Google. And over the longest period of time they have turned young Indian boys into men. Same men who’s lewd remarks directed towards scantily dressed damsels walking around Galleria (Gurgaon) surprise you. According to the educational film “Jawani Toofani” a similar looking city girl is picked up by only a slightly better looking guy at a very modern Galleria like market. If those two can end up in the bath tub, why cant  Madam and I? Legit?

Before the times of cheap DVDs, internet cafes and dailymotion, morning shows were the only possible form of eroticism for a generation of young boys (not just the poor) living in a joint family scenario making a private life near impossible.

I remember peering out of the school bus when it used to cross such halls. For just that instance those reckless posters with disproportionate bodies and chaotic layouts held more intrigue than our absurd boys vs girls arguments. One of those romances urban youth today will not care much about. Everything’s online. Due to obscenity laws in the last decade, you’ll probably have to travel to UP/Bihar heartland to find these posters and yes also these films screened at halls along the railway tracks.

I however did get lucky when V. Sunil a collector of these risqué pieces of art decided to curate at his office gallery (W+K, Sheik Sarai, Delhi). This was one of those days when my own version of morning shows (early meetings) got cancelled and I had time enough to shock myself and remind myself of a withering reality of Indian cinema. When I walked into the gallery I felt a bit shallow, what kind of truth was I looking for. The security guy at the entrance wasn’t very polite. He gave me the “what’s the big deal?” look. I don’t think he thought much about the posters or the motivation of the curator. It felt a bit like how a photographer clicks poverty to sell it for a profit. To Sunil’s credit though when I enquired of the sales I was notified that none of the pieces were up for sale as the works couldn’t be traced back to the artists who made these. Nevertheless I clicked them through a humble camera to refer back to. Here we go:

A number of these films have a strong revenge theme where the main girl turns into a Chudail(witch) or a Dacait(outlaw).Don’t be fooled, Rakhel Bani Chudail poster (above) doesn’t have a shower tap on top of it.If there was one, wouldn’t the cobwebs get washed away?

Films like Honey I love you and Sanwli Ladki leverage the Indian obsession with white skin. Some of these films don’t even have the American women pasted on the posters. They are just irresistible baits.

Bewafa Biwi’s plot would be like that of the make believe film we introduced. Notice at the bottom left corner, 2 on 1 action. The ideas this would give the not so educated lot isn’t funny. Also women don’t have to be perfect athletic figures, infact some extra cushion for pushin is how Indian men like their ladies.

Ek Raat Mere Saath is the work I wanted to pick up. Fantastical in treatment, one can be sure that the film would be nothing like the poster. But this was the only one where the artist and the production team were confident that one extremely strong picture would appeal to the prospect. As you would notice in the others, the attempt is to either completely reveal or entirely conceal the story line.

Can a byline be any more provocative? Considering that it’s in English I wonder where this one was playing. Ok here’s an exercise, try spotting the censor rating on this one, cant? Well its inconspicuously placed right in the centre, just about as large as the central character’s midriff . Found it yet? No, maybe because you can’t get enough of reading “Can a girl be punished for raping boys”.

Recently mainstream Bollywood attempted a biopic on the life of one of the biggest starts of the Morning show industry. Based on the life of Silk Smitha, Dirty Picture explored the ups and downs of the southern siren’s life. It also uncovers the hypocrisy of our patriarchal society. Talking about the central character, Milan Luthra the Director of the film said “she decided to make a career out of selling sex”. That’s pretty fucking brave in our country.

Eyes closed, lips slightly open Reshma titillated many a south Indian boys, surely even grown up men with films such as Reshma ki Jawani, where she plays a desperate milf attracted to teenage boys. But her life and career as her biopic depicts came to an abrupt end. The industry has also been dying a slow death.The market realities are such that one would have to be blinded silly to overlook the sun set on Morning shows. With multiplication of multiplexes, single screens with average occupancy of over 700 per show have suffered reversals and are literally falling like pins, to make way for malls and multiplexes. Now B/C- Grade cinema is merely a search criteria. The accidental genius and sheer bravery of the poster artists however could be lost if not for exhibitions like these. So to the curator, V. Sunil: “Nicely done”.



2 thoughts on “Dirty Pictures

  1. Very brave of you to cover it in such a decent manner.

    Posted by Aerotica | April 4, 2012, 1:28 pm

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