Sunday, November 18, 2007

Indian Media and Adult Content

On Indian Media

I believe that Indians are completely confused about how they need to handle their media. India has been given these new tools by the developed societies of the West. While the West evolved their civilization along with advents in the evolution of their Media, starting from a printing press five hundred years ago, through a maturing newspaper for hundreds of years, to radio and then TV to Internet now, India borrowed them all in much shorter time span. According to me, we got our democracy before we were even prepared for it. We got technology before we were even ready for it. Also, we got the tools of media before we were geared for it. As with any society, we inherited these tools and then indigenized them. We have our own flavor of democracy, though a vibrant one. Our outlook towards technology is quite warped, we seem to use it, but yet do not know its relevance and significance and do not contribute to its further growth either- and we continue to just borrow technology. Media stands out a bit different- we have completely indigenized the tools and made strides in using these tools. Though we still continue to blatantly copy and ape other societies, flagrantly plagiarizing and copying the content, we have also found our position in certain areas, such as Indian Cinema (though heavily plagiarized and completely dominated by sons and daughters of erstwhile actors), Indian News (good journalistic breakthroughs but lacking in accountability), and Indian TV (having our own Indian mythology, soaps and shows, though copied heavily but indigenized). Indian newspaper and magazines have remained almost same and to a certain extent has even deteriorated in the last few decades.

But, how do we handle the adult content in our media?

Adult Content

In this article, I am concerned about Indian Media in its way of handling adult content. I find them most confused on this issue than any other. While we try to promote our ‘Great Indian Culture’ (or Bharat Sanskruti) as a way of differentiating and hence identifying ourselves vis-à-vis other cultures who we think have degenerated, we are also ordinary humans who like to see adult content in regular doses as long as it is packaged subtly under different names. In effect, we are quite hypocritical about this. While we continue to enjoy the ribaldry we just don’t want to admit it.

Here’s my stand on this issue which also touches upon many other aspects, such as pornography, sex education and prostitution.

Privacy and the State

I don’t think what any consenting ‘adults’ do in their private lives is of anybody’s business other than those adults. The state should not have a say in those matters and should not intervene. If those adults want to watch pornography they should be allowed. State should not prohibit them from watching it. If two adults want to participate in different kinds of sex, different kinds of positions, with toys or gadgets, they should not be stopped by the state or the other people. If they want to pay for it, so be it. If they want to watch an adult movie in which consenting adult actors perform, then it should not be a crime. As long as those consenting adults do not infringe on the rights of other individuals or other beings, they are entitled to do anything in their private lives and the state or religion or any institution with authority should have no business in those affairs. .

The problem with India is that it does not even define what an ‘adult’ is. It is a different age for different purposes- for driving, for drinking, for voting, for standing elections, for marrying, for having sex, for watching sex, etc. Recently a SC verdict on the child marriage was ambiguous enough to make it even more confusing on who is an adult.

India does not have a clear say on any of these topics making the whole issue quite confusing. Parents, Media, the Institutions have set their own rules on what is proper and what is not. I think its time we make a clear stand on how we are going to deal with issues of sex, pornography, homosexuality, prostitution, sex-education, etc, as a society.

Indians are quite hypocritical when it comes to issues of adult content. They do not know where they stand. This hypocrisy is coming back to haunt us since Media now touches every Indian with TV, newspapers, Internet coming into our homes every day. And, sex, sleaze, ribaldry, vulgarity, obscenity, and soft pornography have made backroom entry into our daily lives without being labeled as such. Various media people have been using sex as selling object. I don’t mind people using sex to sell their stuff, but at least let’s be clear who your audience is so that we can monitor it to keep our young children away from it during the formative years.

Here are the examples of how Indian media is introducing ribaldry and sex into our daily lives by cleverly dancing on the thin border line between pornography and acceptable-show-of-skin:

Times of India (TOI)

TOI is one flagrant example of how media uses sex to sell itself off. A news item has a beautiful woman in sexy clothes for no apparent reason other than the fact that she is a bystander in an event that is being discussed. The daily sports column features sleaze on regular doses. A lady whose big breasts are about to pop out with nothing left to imagination is displayed in a news item for soccer match between Argentina and Brazil just because she happens to be a fan and she has nothing else to do with the game or its players. A lady with big breasts clearly outlining her nipples wearing extremely small bikini appears on sports section because she has dated a sports star in the recent past. The ‘smart’ people at TOI have realized the requirement of sexually starving Indian masses and they are tapping it. They keep beaming regular doses of soft pornography at every chance. There is no reason why a certain half naked woman appears on a news item. Many a times there is no connection at all. It’s as if they have a collection of millions of semi-nude pictures of women from internet from which they keep posting on regular basis. Even Economic Times while reporting an upsurge in the market uses a woman whose skirt is flying high to indicate the happy times. Discussing a core or central financial issue would make them use the picture of woman with a deep navel. Some ‘smart’ guy at TOI thought that the navel of a woman represented centrality of the issue.

I will be happy to see TOI showing more skin completely getting rid of this hypocrisy, stop calling themselves news reporters, but then they should sell those daily editions in sealed covers intended for mature audiences. But this daily dose of sleaze, ribaldry and nudity to all audiences, kids and adults alike, without any parental control or monitoring system only exposes Indian hypocrisy to the hilt.

Indian TV

Daily, millions of Indian people, including young kids, are glued to Indian TV channels which show love-making scene in all its glory (but with clothes on), gyrating bodies aping love-making (but with clothes on), semi nudity, vulgarity, ribaldry, sleaze on a daily basis right on primetime on regular viewing channels. Pelvic thrusts, suggestive positions, are all regular features nowadays, beamed into every home on a daily basis. India does not recognize what is primetime and what is late-night. India does not have special adult channels separating them from regular prime channels. All can watch sleaze at any point of time, even in the mornings. Indian movies which share the adult content are regularly beamed on Indian TV channels, sometimes even in mornings, without getting edited or formatted for home viewing. We do not have PG-13 or NC-17 rating for our movies. Either a movie is completely censored or it is allowed for all public including a toddler without any parental control.

Once, I was holidaying in India with few friends from France and we were flipping channels on Indian TV one evening and landed ourselves on a show call ‘Item Girl’ where girls were gyrating their bodies in semi-nude clothes in provocative fashion with not much left to imagination. These friends looked at me with an expression of surprise and asked, ‘Is this allowed on Indian TV?’

We have no clue what we are beaming daily to our young minds on a daily basis. There is sleaze, soft pornography, adult content, nudity on all mediums easily accessible to our kids but we keep our kids away from wearing jeans, or t-shirts, away from sex education in schools, and impose all other restrictions under the name of Great Indian Culture.

Indian Cinema

Indian Cinema comes in a different league altogether. I don’t know of any other culture on this planet that has exclusively produced such copious amount of drivel, tripe. crass, nonsense, on such a great level as Indian Cinema. This is one of hallmarks of Indian culture and shows its decadent state. While blatantly copying, plagiarizing, with no holds barred, sanctioned by Indian courts, they are masters at walking thin line between getting almost censored while showing soft pornography, adult love making, showing body parts in lascivious and lusty ways, and downright violence spilling blood. We do not have categorization or ratings for our movies. All movies are watched by all and sundry without exceptions. Movies like Murder which show lovemaking (with clothes on), including all the expression of love making, all the sounds of love making, are attended by families with kids of all ages.

Indian Cinema is like Pornography industry of Hollywood in many ways. They both produce thousands of movies per year. They all have almost similar themes in different settings. They both have the same set of formulae and sequence of events. They are both very predictable on their outcomes. Everyone knows what happens next in both kinds of movies. Similarities don’t end there. No pornography movie accuses the other of plagiarism or copying just like in Indian Cinema. They are intended for audiences who do not want to think for themselves and who want to see everything unfolding on the movie itself. They both have same grunts, voices and expressions of love making, but one of them with clothes on and the other without clothes on.


Indian magazines like INDIA TODAY have pictures of a naked woman’s breast on its front cover. The only thing that made them pass through censors is a tiny technicality- that the breast didn’t have a nipple, and instead a letter from the text took its place. What great art! Isn’t it? Such magazines with show more explicit pictures inside giving opinion polls on bizarre subjects of sex practiced by sexually repressed Indians is sold to all and sundry. There is no special package to indicate it is for mature audiences. According to them, all audience in India are mature.


Role of Internet cannot be missed. While we continue to believe we have stopped pornography at the national borders, the adult content in its full glory arrives on daily doses into homes of middle class families, internet cafes, etc, where young kids keep visiting in hordes relieving themselves off on a content which is unmonitored and unregulated. Internet allows kids to go to all kinds of places on internet and allows them to watch content which is deemed unwatchable even by some adults. There are all kinds of sex sites, involving all kinds of ages, which are completely unsuitable for viewing by young kids.


Our society is duplicitous. We are not an open society to start with like in Europe, where certain nudity is tolerated in public. There they discuss topics like sex and its education, awareness on sex is quite openly with their kids. We do not allow that in India. Our parents and government bodies believe our kids do not need that, making us join ranks with few other Islamic and religious orthodox countries. It is clear we are very conservative in these matters. However, we do allow adult content on prime time which no other conservative country allows.

What India needs is a clear monitoring body which classifies content into various boxes. I would like to see rating such as NC-6, NC-12, NC-18, indicating no children under 6, under 12, and under 18. Movie going parents should know the classification before taking their kids to such movies. Once we classify our magazines and newspapers as such, the content should be sold in special packages for mature audiences. Pornography, Adult Toys, and other stuff should be sold in selected stores targeting mature audiences only. Indian movies can screen adult stuff targeting selected audiences. Indian TV channels can screen adult content late night or on specially designated adult channels.

I believe we need to channel the Indian sexual frustrations caused out of repressions by so called Great Indian Culture. People want to relieve themselves off. They need avenues. If you keep repressing the audiences, it would lead to unnecessary consequences as listed above where ordinary channels and magazines will resort to using sex and sleaze to promote their products which will be viewed by all audiences including the impressionable young minds.

I believe India should allow pornography. It should allow adult movies to be screened in cinema halls. It should allow DVDs, magazines, etc, to be sold in stores. I believe India should legalize homosexuality between consenting adults. India should legalize prostitution. India should allow sex-education to its young kids so that they learn about these topics from a right source at the right age. India should restrict its kids from watching certain content by making sure we have proper classification mechanisms.

Indian cannot keep running away from discussing these topics forever. If the parents and the right authorities do not address these issues for the kids, the kids will learn it anyway from the wrong sources- such as internet.


  1. This post is full of contradictions and your own internal confusions.

    When your french friends said - "Is this allowed on Indian TV" - they showed a lot of respect and a set of assumptions about your sanskruti which was being challenged with these "items". It looks like you are hell bent to get rid of that respect along with those items.

    What people do in their personal lives is their own decision. What would you get by "legalizing" all your sex positions and types?

    Grow up and be an "adult" now! Having opinions does not make all your opinions worth putting out there on your Blog.

    This is my last comment on your Blog Sujai. May that Almighty have some mercy on you.

  2. This is my last comment on your Blog Sujai.

    Whew! At last!

    As they say - Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  3. Keep the rubbish stuff flowing Sujai - you are doing a good job ;)

  4. At last Gujarat has something to cheer about,Gujarat is the most sexually promiscous state in india, i guess.It is not trickle down effect from urban areas.It is bottom up effect.

    I dont know about the sudden and gradual changes happening in the 5-6 years.

    KKK(kallu kallan kaalia)not original kkk

  5. Darpan ko "darpan" mein apna chehra dikhaya to naraaz ho gaya ;)
    Maybe he didn't like what he saw.
    Anyways, I once again agree with you in totality. I read all your blogs and I still have to disagree with you on anything you've written so far. Keep it up!!

    Darpan dikhate raho...


  6. Visit - Want to decide what to watch and what not to watch on the TV (or other media)? - two words - Common Sense.

  7. I have no idea why people should get upset with what others have to write on their own blog. It is good to have different opinions and fight for it too. But then you can't "personalize" comments. I don't agree with everything Sujai says. And I don't have to. But that doesn't mean I am wrong or Sujai is wrong. Some of the things he says is quite true but I believe he says it in a much stressing manner and words so that the underlying concept or issue impacts the audience.

  8. Inderjeet Raina: Hope you have a darpan (mirror) that deflects and not reflects all your depressions :)

  9. How do geeks meditate? Might help Sujai -

  10. This Blog is trying to be the Bill Maher ( WITHOUT THE HUMOR - a perfect recipe for depression. Bill Maher also proposes free sex, prostitution, drugs and all illicit activities but does that with a sense of humor that is impeccable. This Blog sucks since it proposes to do all that for India but with an air of depression around that.

  11. Ashwin: That is absolutely correct. Just like Sujai has the right to call TOI idiotic - readers of this Blog have the right to voice their "disagreement" with what he writes.

  12. yes, anonymous (why do I bother to reply to an anonymous comment I don't know) everybody has a right to say but not "personal digs" as mentioned in earlier comment

  13. Erudition and good writing skills do not constitute a license to write anything about anybody.

    yes anwinimous - you are absolutely correct. With the same logic this blog should not dig on "people" like Arundhati, Medha, Juanita, Sonia, Abhishek, Shashi etc.

  14. hahahaha...someone with a weird sense of humor... but then its his blog :(

  15. "Indian Cinema is like Pornography industry of Hollywood in many ways.........." has been cited to movies metaphors & analogies.


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