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A ‘sexual’ scene from the movie The Wedding Guest, which features Dev Patel and Radhika Apte has been leaked, and shared with only Radhika Apte’s name attached to it. A reminder that shame is attached only to female sexuality?
For a good actor, acting is an art, and not just work. Tastefully filmed nude scenes or intimate scenes are also art. But in a country like India, where sex and sexuality are considered taboo, even the most artfully filmed scenes are treated like cheap pornography.
A case in point is a scene from the movie The Wedding Guest, which features Dev Patel and Radhika Apte engaging in intimate sexual acts. The scene, which leaked online a few days ago, has gone viral.
Speaking about the scene, Radhika Apte said, “The leaked sex scene featured both Radhika Apte and Dev Patel in it. But the scenes are being spread in my name. Why the people are not getting spread (sic) under the male actor Dev Patel’s name?”
Earlier, a scene from her movie Parched too was shared for its sexual content, and at that time actor Adil Hussain, who was also in the scene, had brought up the same points. He had said, “You leak only the sex scene and no other beautiful scenes from the film. It only shows that we are extremely obsessed about sex and yet we don’t want to talk about it. We shun it, shove it under the carpet and don’t want to show it to people.”
He added, “The most interesting aspect is that the leaked video is titled as ‘Radhika Apte sex scene’ and not as ‘Adil Hussain sex scene’. That’s because a man doing it is just another matter whereas when a woman does it, it does matter. It is only then when (sic) it becomes a sex scene. It also shows the patriarchal society that we live in.”
Speaking about doing such “bold scenes” in movies, Radhika has said earlier, “I had no apprehensions about going bold. I have been brought up watching world cinema and I have travelled a lot so I am very comfortable with my body. I have seen people performing nude on stage in India and abroad,” adding that, “I don’t see why I should be ashamed of my body. That’s the one tool I use as a performer.”
Unfortunately, ‘shame’ is associated with the female body and female sexuality. It is disappointing, that the only time we consider female sexuality worth talking about is when it is objectified.
Swara Bhaskar was shamed for her masturbation scene in Veere Di Wedding, and so was Ratna Pathak Shah for her portrayal of an older woman with sexual desires in Lipstick Under Her Burkha. As this article points out, “Bollywood’s prudishness with sex is legendary—no kissing, nudity, or explicit sex scenes are included. The desires of the stereotypical female figures of Bollywood films (until almost the mid-2000s)—the virginal/sexually unaware heroine, the vamp, the Hindu wife, and the mother—only exist to serve the male protagonist and male audiences. In popular cinema, Indian women have largely been denied real and adult portrayals of their everyday lived desires and fantasies.”
One may argue that by performing in such scenes, the actor is “asking for it.” To those who say this, I can only say that the actor is simply doing what is required of her by the script. That people choose to see it as a “sex scene” and not art, is a reflection of their twisted gaze.
And women have always been subject to this gaze, which regards her sexual agency as “shameful.” A man is expected to have sex and enjoy it. But a woman who enjoys it or participates in it, is seen as a whore. This perception gives people the “permission” they need to lech and objectify.
Men can continue to watch and see themselves in characters that use rape as a plot tool, or glamourize abuse, or are full of “non-veg jokes” such as Grand Masti, Great Grand Masti, and Kyaa Kool Hai Hum.
But women on screen having sex?
A whore whose “honour” has been lost. After all, good women don’t do such things –they are sexless goddesses who produce children asexually!
Image source: YouTube
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
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