Varun Grover on Moral Policing, guilt and sexuality
Before starting the post I would like people to see this short video of Varun Grover who shares about a bit about himself and a bit about Hindi and Urdu language. While the video is titled as a comedy, it goes into the heart of the gentleman himself.
See the video from 09:30 onwards till 16:10 of the video. Now if you see the whole video you realize that he is a little-bit drunk. For those who didn’t understand what Varun was sharing, I am translating the same in English. Please excuse the poor translation is at is just an approximation of what he was sharing.
Varun shared he is tired of moral policing and he shared the roots of moral policing right from childhood. In many Indian homes, even then and perhaps even now, if there is a condom ad, if there are young children around, they change the channels furiously. In those days, there were no channels but it was so uncomfortable that Varun and his younger brother used to go to kitchen to have water. Sometimes when Nanaji used to be there (Nananji = father’s father) he used to go to kitchen to have water while the two younger kids used to do something or the other. And this prevailed in their home for a long time. In early 90’s when the VCP/VCR revolution happened, many families used to get VCP, VCR on rent, rent a bunch of movies and the most elder person used to sit and make sure that when an intimate scene came on the telivision, it was fast-forwarded. Obviously this lead to harm as guilt factor was and is associated with sex even then and even now. While he is married, he still says he is not normal and still trying to get out of the guilt factor.
I felt sad but understood that he had to be a bit drunk in order to share what he wanted to share. The shame and guilt he felt and feels is probably the same felt by millions of Indian men who are in their 40’s even today. How many parents today talk about sex, personal hygiene with their kids.
Sex in Cinema
As far as theatrical productions are concerned, the CBFC even today censors kissing scenes, alcohol brands and cuss words in movies while our great leader can use cuss words without an issue. Is there any wonder why porn is the third most searched term in Indian search-engines.
While web-series is touted to be free out of censorship, it isn’t so. While there have been one or two web series in Hindi which have shown some erotica, much of the content is stale although there is lot of promise. Bengali web-series on the other hand, does do some edgier work as far as their web-series production goes, both with sex, cuss words and being somehow more down-to-earth in the expression.
Mythology, Nanny state and reality
Around the same time i.e. in the late 80’s (1987 and 1988 to be exact) two mythological serials were shown in quick succession. The first one was Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana and the other one was B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat . The influence of both these serials, especially Ramayana was so great that people, normal, educated people and even elderly people used to come and worship Arun Govil who played as Shri Ram and Deepika Chikalia who played as Ma Sita. The on-screen couple even tried a movie to break out of the larger than life persona by playing as a romantic lead but were soundly rejected by the audiences. In fact, characters from both mythological serials went on to represent and win in Indian elections on the BJP ticket . It was almost two decade laters that two eminent personalities, Ramachandra Guha and Devdutt Pattanaik, one who is known as a historian while the other is known as an author with a scientific outlook on mythology shared in perhaps different contexts and places tthat Indian mythology is the biggest erotic tale there is. This sort of censorship shows how the nanny state which was a British thing has come to rule and is still part of the Indian establishment .
With such conservative values, is it odd that there are no toilets in many places or that there are no sanitary napkins for women in many places. Even change.org has half a dozen petitions demanding the same in many places . In fact, I know at least 3-4 chowkies or thanas near my area where women are posted have no toilets. In such scenarios where are the women supposed to go relieve themselves ? This is on top of the 10-12 hours of work they have to do similar to the men. Also this lack of knowledge is common among men and women. I came to know periods and sanitary napkins from my girlfriends rather than from home as it is and has been a sort of taboo topic in many Indian homes. It’s also no wonder that a movie had to be made on the topic, one on toilets and one on sanitary napkins.
I just hope by sharing this blog post, some more people may start speaking about the supposedly ‘taboo topics’ which are more to do with our physical and mental health.