Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Representation of Sexuality in 'Indian Culture': Past and Present (The 'Unish Kuri' Debate)

(Although I feel a little feverish and am not in a mood to write I’ve made a promise to someone to complete this post as soon as possible. So my friends please pardon me if you find me to be irrelevant on some issues and in such cases do not forget to leave a comment. Between, there’s some good news. Apparently Snigdhendu Bhattacharya has taken up the responsibility to curate Little Fish Eat Big Fish. Finally others are being a little bit active than the previous days. That gives me a reason to sit back and relax for a while. Show your support for the Indian no-budget Indies. Come join us on the new Facebook page.
Recently I was engaged in a debate with Mr. Akash Ghosh on Facebook. It started this way; I wrote a note on a contemporary fortnight bulletin in Bengali named Unish-Kuri, how they are promoting them and trying to become popular using sex and showbiz spices among the youth of Bengal. Actually the situation is not in theirfavour now-a-days as the sales for the ABP (a renowned publishing house) are going down and down day-by-day. The political atmosphere in Bengal is too violent in the recent times; students are not getting jobs after passing out from renowned institutions, a 32 year old government is about to be wiped away in the next elections, Santals (tribal communities) are opting for armed struggle under the leadership of a Maoist party etc. These factors are causing this ABP published crap to be purchased only by a group of youth brought up in a family with financial standards above the average. Sometimes even they are not going for these kinds of magazines as they got their Iron Maidens and Judas Priests, sometimes Papa Rochas and local DJs for entertainment.

What is Unish Kuri (Nineteen Twenty if translated) actually? It’s an Anandabazarizedmimicry of the American magazine Seventeen. It publishes everything that Seventeen does. Moreover, this magazine even copies the promotional policy of Seventeen. It arranges a Glam Hunt every year which is supposedly a contextual copy of the Miss Seventeen competition. Clarifying the word ‘Anandabazarized’ – Ananda Bazar Publication (ABP in short) has a good cultural reputation in Bengal. So, when they started publishing their youngest magazine Unish Kuri, they added poetry and literature with the Seventeen-kinds-of materials. Actually the magazine was started as a fortnightly for youths where mainly articles concerning culture were used to be published. But as the days went by, the magazine started copying the policy of Seventeen more and more in order to compete in the market.

In the Facebook note, I mentioned an advertisement published in Anandabazar Patrika (the reputed / mal-reputed Bengali daily) of the next issue of Unish Kuri. The advertisement (supposedly the cover of the issue) featured a full page picture of a girl in Black Bra and Blue Jeans other than the contents of the issue. Well, what are they trying to do? Are they now about to compete with the porn magazines like Antorango (Intimate) andAporadh (Guilt)? ABP, the name or the brand, has an aura. People in suburban area pronounce it with admiration. So, proceeding this way aren’t they trying to corrupt the youth of suburbs in the name of selling cultural products??

I’m not a patriarchal motherfucker. Rather I support and promote an unusually liberal approach towards sexuality. I dream of a day when it would become possible for an Indian to kiss in public without hesitation, without being noticed in a ‘Bad’ way. I dream of a day when it would be possible to make love on soft bed of grasses under the wide open sky without being interfered. But I can’t support the commoditization of naked-woman-skin as a spectacle.

Sex sells, I agree with the point. Moreover I’d like to add that it is the eldest of all provisions other than farming and hunting. But look at the state policy; we have registered porn magazines like Aporadh and Antorango, we have access to thousands of porn websites, we have fashion channels and nude scenes/sex scenes from foreign movies on TV, yet we have no licensed porn film industry in India. Back in 2005 I guess, the govt. has legalized prostitution i.e. the selling of sex but it did not legalized consuming sex. Which means the cops won’t be harassing the prostitutes anymore but they are likely to harass each and every customer of them if seen to be coming out of a ‘red light colony’. I support the selling of sex for earning money for the one who needs it but I don’t support the procedure of promoting a product or a service using woman-skin. It’s not sex but a sexual pretention is sold by the capitalists to promote their products. Indian govt. does not allow advertisers to show completely naked woman/man body though it is rather related to art than obscenity. What the advertisers do is to gain attention by showing half-naked young girls. The suspense of the revealed/unrevealed part of a female object is thus sold to the public innately voyeur and believe me it has got nothing to do with our past.

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