XXX on the couch: Erotica turns up heat in the OTT world!

As Mastram garners 11 million streams in a day, during the lockdown, we take a look at how a number of ‘erotic’ shows have, of late, been heating up temperatures on OTT platforms
Actor Swara Bhasker played the lead in Amazon Prime Video’s web show, Rasbhari
Actor Swara Bhasker played the lead in Amazon Prime Video’s web show, Rasbhari
Updated on Jul 25, 2020 12:13 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By HT Correspondent

Adults-only content has existed forever but they were always few-and-far-between, and hardly ever meant for mainstream consumption. But now, titillation seems to have become a tried-and-tested formula with the number of such shows – on OTT platforms – steadily going up. And even audiences seem to be lapping them up.

Big numbers

According to a LetsOTT report, on July 3, adult comedy, Mastram recorded the highest single-day streams – 11 million. It has 362 million views till date in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Swara Bhasker was recently seen in a sensuous avatar in a new web series, Rasbhari that focuses on the hypocrisy surrounding female sexuality in a patriarchal society. Plus, a few weeks back, XXX Season 2 was in the news and found itself in legal turmoil for depicting scenes “insulting the Indian Army”.

“It’s simple: there is a demand for adult content and that’s why makers are attempting them. And of course, creators too are interested in backing it,” says filmmaker Ken Ghosh, who has been associated with shows such as XXX Season 1 and Dev DD. “If made responsibly and in a sane manner, such content can go on to do very well. Also, unlike theatres or TV, OTT isn’t about community or family viewing. It gives privacy to an individual, wherein you can consume such content.”

 

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Demand and supply

Experts, though, contend that the idea behind such shows shouldn’t only to “titillate or excite.” “In international shows, there’s a lot of nudity and skin show but it’s all a part of narrative, and that’s how it should be,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “In India, the genre itself is very new, mainly because OTT is getting bigger [in the country] now. Plus, the steaming space gives a lot of freedom to push such content due to absence of censorship.”

Probably that’s why, by now, a number of shows -- that are clearly high on erotica – such as Gandii Baat (multiple seasons), Panchali, Khul Ja Sim Sim, Kavita Bhabhi, Charmsukh, Virgin Bhasskar and Fuh Se Fantasy among others have streamed on various OTT platforms. “Why are we becoming so painfully shy? After all, we are a land of Kamasutra. If there’s a need for erotica in the storyline, why not? Also, such shows are doing well because audiences are starved of such content from other platforms [films and TV],” says ad guru Prahlad Kakkar.

 

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Lockdown effect

In India, such shows – almost always – come with their set of controversies/talking points. Bhasker-starrer Rasbhari, for example, was also under fire. “Nobody bats an eyelid to adult sex comedies (with men) but when you have a show about a woman, who is celebrating her sexuality, then everyone talks about Indian values, culture and the future of children,” the actor said recently.

Interestingly, experts feel that the viewership for adult shows is most likely to have gone up during the lockdown. “With OTT having been the preferred mode of entertainment during the lockdown, such shows may have witnessed a spike in viewership. But if you want to keep the audiences hooked for long, then makers have to realise that the shows can’t just be about erotica,” concludes Adarsh.

 

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Censoring OTT content?

Unlike films and TV, OTT platforms aren’t under the purview of censorship/regulation as of now. And although there have been a lot of talk, for some time now, about ‘a self-regulatory mechanism’ and ‘possibility of censorship’ in OTT space, creators feel the authorities “should give audiences the freedom” to choose. “Right now, makers – vis-à-vis OTT – are also trying new things since it’s a new platform. Very soon, they will also settle down,” says Ghosh, adding: “Makers must self-regulate but viewers should also have the option to watch or skip shows as per their wish.”

 

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Sunday, October 24, 2021