As everyone likes to say, Indian Cinema is full of clichés. Especially when it relates to sex, where a straightforward kiss is pictorially represented as two flowers touching each other’s petals. More pollination than procreation. Or two birds rubbing each other’s beaks. Or shutting off lights and covering themselves from head to toe to do whatever chori chori, chupke-chupke. One of the most common of them is the situation where lovers get stranded in a forest hut in a storm with no way to reach home. One wonders why they were cavorting there in the first place. The heroine’s sari is completely wet, miraculously the hero manages to keep his kurta/ jacket dry. The sari is hung between two branches/poles whilst heroine coyly glances at lover as he builds a fire. The fire ignites more than flames. Resulting in embarrassing consequences for super-fertile woman. But whatever works! And sometimes, even the cliches do.
One such example is from the film ARADHANA, a milestone movie that changed the fortunes of many. You will wonder what there is so sexy in this stilted situation.But I confess here, the story for me is a little personal.
Around the time the film was made and released, Rajesh Khanna was steadily involved with my childhood friend Anju Mahendru. One day, her mum and I, out for lunch at the newly-opened Gazebo restaurant in Bandra, decided to drop by and check out Kaka’s newly-acquired bungalow, Aashirwad, which he had bought from the ex-reigning marquee star, Rajendra Kumar. We waited a while in the circular verandah at the entrance before the new star, dressed predictably in a silk lungi-kurta, that film industry accepted uniform, came slumberously down the spiral staircase, with Anju in tow. The crumpled, dishevelled state of his attire eloquently hinted at the activity in the first-floor bedroom, that had preceded his entry. Even whilst talking to us, sitting cross-legged on the floor, he could not take his eyes off his lady-love, his every glance was a caress. His eyes followed her body, giving me the impression he was ready for more. And it was then I thought, all I wanted was for some man to desire me thus, look at my body with such physical longing, love me with this indolent passion.
In ROOP TERA MASTANA, Rajesh Khanna’s desire heightens by degrees as he tries to close up on his woman, desire smouldering on his lips as they acquire an extra-dimensional sexual aura, a kiss shimmering to surface, his hooded eyes expressive of his youthful ardour, his lust compounded by Sharmila’s half-willing, half evading responses. As the intensity of his passion increased with every step he drew nearer to her I was reminded of that silent personal sexual thought his intimacy with Anju had initiated. About having a man desire me thus. So sexy in a clichéd way for many, but special for me as symbolic of a moment of self-realisation.
The beauteous Anarkali traded her life for one night with the prince of her dreams, Salim. Before he had her enclosed in a cemented wall, Emperor Akbar granted her this literally last desire. So Anarkali dressed regally and proceeded to her tryst, the master(’s) bedroom, and found him expectantly waiting in a pergola in the garden outside. Concealed inside a white-blossomed arbour, the prince did something pretty bold and innovative for his time, even for a celluloid 1960 version of Mughal-e-Azam. He stroked his beloved’s face with a soft, silken feather and watched her coy glance spring into a look of exquisite sexual longing. Eyes unblinking, he watched almost voyeuristically as her (read my) lips opened of their own accord, waiting to receive his kiss. The yearning on her face was eloquent as his gentle strokes triggered new feelings within. Slowly, he moved his face closer to hers, and just before their lips touched, covered their faces with the silken feather. Ah! Anticlimax, just when you thought the director would continue his modern metaphors and show the smooch. That was for the censors dearies, Salim wasn’t checking her out for bad breath.
The morning after the night before….and Anarkali wakes to a golden fulfilment, as yellow blossoms shower down upon her.
All, along, the langourous tones of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, are heard in the background, as Tansen lip-synchs to PREM JOGAN BANKE. The classical rhythms move along the pace of her arousal, as slowly and surely as it must have moved along the pace of love-making. No slam bam thank you Anar ma’am.
A night of fulfilment….literally to die for.
In this beautiful thumri-styled lori, composed by my father for the early fifties film, TARANA. Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, the aura of intimacy is so well translated onto the screen by this couple, engaged, later estranged, in real life.
One night, they are stranded (what else is new) on a hilltop (that’s new), and the hero develops a high temperature, perhaps a metaphor for feverishness of another kind. Madhubala tries to lull the feverish guy to sleep with a song. They are so, so close, he sleeping in her arms, fingers playfully in her hair (where were you thinking??), trying to keep his eyes open so he can continue to look at her. The romance is in their glances, his gaze an embrace of longing.
There was so much oomph in Madhubala’s innocence, so much raw passion in her rusticity, her eyes spoke a sexual language so unconsciously, her voice had such an intimate veneer - close encounters at its romantic best.
Appropriately, my father used the thumri mode in this lullaby, to express the different emotions this playful encounter engineered. Thumri, with its own syntax of sexual innuendo, and the words suggesting that Madhubala did understand what the hero really wanted, in the phrase, BEIMAAN, TORE NAINWA, NINDIYA NA AAYE. But finally convinced him that sleep was a better option.
I grew up in an era (the 1950s and '60s) where girls were confined in every way. Talk about sex was forbidden, thinking about sex was considered wicked, speaking to boys deemed you promiscuous. If you touched a guy, you were purportedly embroiled in an affair! My husband too, came from a conventional background,and so considered women who made the first move, as ‘forward.’ Well, literally it made sense. If they were first, they would be forward. However, here it had very negative meanings. The connotations were that such women were as good as nymphomaniacs or whores. I argued that women had the same sexual feelings as men and why should they be different in their demand? This fact inhibited me for the rest of my life, spraying me with guilt feelings if ever I felt the urge.
Which is why I so approved of this song! Lag Ja gale. An iconic song that may be related to Lata Mangeshkar’s pristine image, to me signifies an invitation from the female to the male. No blatant piece-offering this, rather a sublime expression of wanting to be united, for this is the perfect moment, we are in it, and there may not be another. The passion is declared openly in the woman’s eyes, her movements are slow and sensual. I find sexiness even in her walk.
Whereas I have nothing against one-night stands, for me sex has everything to do with love, to fulfil and satisfy your partner, to be one in sublimity and splendour. An orgasm which is a physical orchestration of slow and deliberate beauty, resulting in mutual satisfaction. Call it old-fashioned if you will. But that’s me. I believe in making love, not just having sex, though for me sex is the ultimate celebration of that intimacy. No trumpeting shake-up, but a gentle, golden experience.
This has all the most overt ingredients of sexy. It's a catalogue of cliches- heaving bosoms, sighs and moans, pelvic thrusts, narrow waist jerking provocatively, rhythm of the song moving along the motions of love-making, slim and sensual Dhak-Dhak Madhuri Dixit enticing her lover with the sensuality of her dance… a sight of beauty and a generator of hard-ons…whichever way you wish to look at it. Enjoy this cinematic roll In the hay, which is the literal, scenic interpretation of sex In Indian cinema, and fun in its raunchy way
Tune in to the playlist of all of 's Sexy Saturday Songs here.