Dear Moral Police,
It all started with Vicky Donor. I was shooting in a middle-class neighbourhood of Mumbai when a policeman approached our production guy, curious.
“Kaunsi film ban rahi hai?
” (What film is being made?)
Sperm donation, matlab veerya daan par
.”(It's on sperm donation)
Kalyug aa gaya hai. Aisi film bananey ki permission kisne di
?” (What a bad time, who gave permission to make such a film?)
Vicky Donor is when I faced you, India’s self-appointed moral police, for the first time. The film was about infertility and sperm donation. But many of you weren’t just repulsed by the subject; you also didn’t want the film to get made for people who actually wanted to see it. It’s time you opened up your minds – to sex, love and lust. What Mumbai does, India follows. So, listen to what Mumbai wants.
We want shows that feature nudity to not be banned instantly. There’s a difference between naked and nude; porn and art. There’s a difference between an essential scene and a superfluous one. It’s fair to say that a country whose population now stands at 1.2 billion has a pretty good idea of what sex is. We should choose whether to see skin or avoid it. We don’t want a third party deciding for us.
We want adult men and women to be able to hug in public without being harassed by cops. The police force is meant to enforce law and order, and the last time we checked, a peck on the cheek was not part of the obscenity laws. If we’re considered old enough to vote at 18, then we shouldn’t be policed into pretending we are sexless brothers and sisters sitting two feet from each other.
We want to be able to dance without it being deemed ‘indecent behaviour’. Dancing is just dancing. Young women who drink and dance in a pub without interrupting other people’s evenings are not automatically hookers. Stop looking at them as depraved. Start seeing them as hardworking individuals who deserve to unwind as much as men do.
We want men to be blamed for rape. It doesn’t matter what the woman was wearing, that she may be divorced, that she smokes, drinks and is sexually active or that she knew her rapist. If no consent is given, that makes the act rape. That makes the attacker the rapist – a person who knew what he was doing. That makes the woman the victim – who deserves support and justice, not a public shaming.
We want films with an ‘A’ rating to not be censored. Censoring a film that you already deem fit only for adults implies that even our adults aren’t mature enough to handle some themes. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s decision to stop the TV release of national-award winning film, The Dirty Picture, after cuts means our government is a hypocrite by denying us a movie it deemed the best of the year.
We want single people to be able to rent apartments without it being termed ‘unacceptable’. All this talk about the youth being the torch-bearers for the country; all this emphasis on young people driving the nation forward – it’s all true. So why deny our young workforce the right to live peacefully in a city in which they’ve come to work? The idea that all single people have dubious character belongs in the same era when the Premier Padmini was the only car.
We want consenting adults to do what they want in private, regardless of their sexual preference. Who are you to determine whom another person should be with? The Delhi High Court has already ruled that it is no longer illegal for two adults of the same sex to have consensual sex in private. It’s time Mumbai, and the nation, follows suit.
Ayushmann Khurrana, actor
From HT Brunch, July 15
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