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'Is India sexless?'

Shobhaa De, the 'queen of smut', talks about erotic writings.
None | By Alka Rastogi, Lucknow
UPDATED ON JUL 31, 2006 06:16 PM IST

She is known as the 'queen of smut'. Sassy and strong-headed author Shobhaa Dé reacts to her erotic writings, pre-marital sex and marriage.

It is said that you excel as a successful author because of titillating skills. What do you have to say?
I don't think my books are all erotic. It would be wrong to attribute my success totally to eroticism. I have countered taboos held by women writers earlier. I would not like to sweep sex under the carpet. This is simply male chauvinism.

Why do you say male chauvinists criticize you?
A male author would not have been asked this question. Only women authors have to take this query. Well, how a writer expresses himself or herself is entirely the prerogative of the writer. Let me tell you: I give a damn to stereotypes!

Why did noted journalist Khushwant Singh criticize you saying that you have run out of ideas?
If what Khushwant said is true my book Spouse would not have become a bestseller. It is breaking all previous records. I am not responsible for whatever he says. He has the right to air his opinion. Despite his harsh comment, I think that even in his 80s Kush is a darling.

But we are a conservative nation. Aren't we?
I don't think I am living in a sexless country. Is India sexless? Had it been so, our population would not have grown so much. I hate hypocrisy. I am proud that I have written Starry Nights that talks about a girl's struggle in Bollywood and Sultry Days that is about lust and passion. Similarly, Sexual Obsession truly depicts sexual obsession in Bombay's fashion world. What is wrong if my novels depict the erotic more vividly?

Are you often hurt by unsavoury reactions?
I know that my writings provoke reaction. I love reactions, be it good or bad. I would hate to be predictable and boring and seen playing safe. I hate stupid women.

What inspired you to write Spouse?
The book was written as a panic reaction to the Generation Next's attitude of foregoing the institution of marriage. Three of my own children who are in their 30s have said no to marriage.

Do you think hundred per cent honesty is possible in marriage?
Friends often ask me this question. But hundred per cent honesty is not possible even in the most trusting one. To be frank it is not even necessary.

Many women have told me that they now lament the moment they felt that they had to come clean and tell all. Even after many years, husbands recall their past and resort to cheap name-calling. Many are very possessive about their wives. For a husband it is difficult to accept that his wife has slept with another man even if it was years ago.

Do you think women should be secretive about their pre-marital or extra-marital relations?
A wise woman should place her cards wisely. She should make no reference about her past. Women today have a different thinking than what was 50 years ago.

Why don't you write fiction?
Fiction was never me. Fiction is the zone where the mind can just about create anything even if one does not believe in it.

Do you have any obsession with the letter S?
I like the sound of S. People love to use the word Sex just because I like the word S that is why my novels start with it - Starry Nights, Speed Post, Socialite Evenings, Shooting from the hip and Spouse.

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