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Sonakshi Sinha’s upcoming movie Khandaani Shafakhaana revolves around getting people to talk openly about sex. Hopefully, this succeeds not just in reel life, but also in real life!
I have been lucky enough to have a rare experience in India – open, honest and uncensored conversations about sex. I got the opportunity because I studied Psychology, and we had a chapter on Sexual Dysfuctions. Our teacher, Mrs Tatke, without beating about the bush, or shying away or treating it as just another chapter, took the opportunity to make it a true learning experience, by throwing open the class to questions and discussions.
It was also around the same time that the “Ask the Sexpert” series, started appearing in the newspaper, featuring questions like these:
“I’ve heard that a lizard’s tail grows back when cut. I was curious if the same holds true for my penis?”
“I have heard that any kind of acidic substance can prevent pregnancy. Can I pour some drops of lemon or orange juice in my girlfriend’s vagina after the intercourse? Will it harm her?”
“I have a small penis and I can’t seem to satisfy my girlfriend. My astrologer has advised me to pull it every day for 15 minutes while reciting a shloka. I have been doing this for a month but it hasn’t helped. What should I do?”
Dr Mahinder Watsa’s replies to these questions are as hilarious as the questions themselves. However, while we may laugh, the fact that these questions are being asked is proof that that the state of sex education in India is dismal. Taboos around sex mean that it just not spoken about –at least not in the way it should be spoken about.
Which is why the trailer of Sonakshi Sinha’s upcoming movie, Khandaani Shafakhaana is a breath of fresh air.
The trailer, which Sonakshi Sinha shared on Twitter with the hashtag #BaatTohKaro, features Sonakshi’s character, Baby Bedi, being bequeathed a sex clinic belonging to an uncle. And while selling the clinic is lucrative, there is just one hitch – she must actually run the clinic for a minimum of six months, as per her uncle’s will. There is the obvious concern that “ladki hoke wo waale clinic jaayegi? (will she attend THAT sort of a clinic being a woman?” but Baby sets out to do so nevertheless.
She soon realizes that is easier said than done. “Kyunki sexual disorder ho gaya hai gupt rog and sex ho gaya hai gupt gyaan, (because sexual disorders and sex have become secrets)” she muses while complaining that while we account for 17% of the world’s population, we behave as if 130 crore people were born by eating “blessed bananas” instead of via sex. She realizes that she must get people talking about sex if she is to encourage them to come to the clinic.
This is when rapper Baadshah, who plays the role of a popular singer in the movie appears. The movie seems to revolve around her efforts to get him and others talking about sex.
In the past, movies like Vicky Donor and Shubh Mangal Savdhan have successfully used the romcom format to get people talking about, and generate positive perceptions about sensitive issues like sperm donation and premature ejaculation. Hopefully, this movie too will live up to everything the trailer promises.
Sex is not a dirty secret. It is a natural and essential part of life – one that ideally is a beautiful, pleasurable partnership, between consenting adults. When it not; when something is lacking, there should be no shame in seeking help. It should be as simple as going to see the doctor for a fever, or a broken bone.
And it isn’t just a personal problem. Lack of sex education has important public health implications. A study reported in 2014, by the central government-run Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), noted a distressing increase in sexually transmitted diseases among children, due to increased child abuse and absence of sexual health programmes in school curriculum. As this article points out, sex education can also help tackle India’s rampant sexual violence problem. And in India, it is not just the children who need sex education. The adults need it too.
“Main sex ko sex hi kehti hoon,” (I call sex by its name) Baby retorts to someone who challenges her in the trailer. That’s exactly the kind of plain talking we need.
Image source: YouTube
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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