Radhika Apte is in the news again, because apparently a ‘sex scene’ starring her from an upcoming film called Parched has leaked online and gone viral. Now I’ve never actually watch a Radhika Apte film in the theatre (yes, yes you can gasp about that later), but I’ve come to know her name thanks to the alleged leaks of sex scenes and nude photos.
Last year, it was a nude video of the actress from a short film directed by Anurag Kashyap, and now this year it’s a leaked sex scene. Cue the outrage, the gasp, the sensational headlines with words bold, sex, and nude all being present. And there we were, thinking this is the 21st century, an age where perhaps we’ve finally made our peace with sex in cinema.
But as Apte’s co-star in the film Adil Hussain rightly asks, why call it a “Radhika Apte sex scene?” Because when it comes to sex, India and Bollywood remain as hypocritical as ever, and the gaze remains firmly on the female body. Let’s admit there’s a certain hypocrisy when leaked sex scenes go viral as only the female star becomes the sole focus.
While sex might be an act between two persons, the consequences it seems are reserved only for the females. And this is not just a Bollywood problem. In Hollywood too, women have been made infamous and slut-shamed, because of a sex tape leaks. And it is their name that remains firmly attached to the scandal, while the man is conveniently forgotten. Remember Paris Hilton’s sex tape? Pretty sure you’ll have to Google the name of the man who was in it.
Then in India, there’s the larger problem of how we view sex, especially when it comes on screen. We might no longer be relying on two flowers or shots of feet touching to show sex on the big screen, but as these leaks show, we’re still in the Neanderthal age on this subject. We want to see every bit of sex that leaks, and yet don’t want to talk about sex education in our schools.
“You leak only the sex scene and no other beautiful scenes from the film. It only shows that we are extremely obsessed with sex and yet we don’t want to talk about it,” Hussain told IndianExpress.com. And he nails the point. For a society that’s all about preserving traditional Indian values with modernity, we are strangely obsessed with news around bold scenes, or of an actress in a bikini.
When our politicians claim bikinis are ruining society, we are quick to condemn them. And yet when an actress dons a bikini for a film scene, it becomes big news. An actress wearing a bikini in 2016 in India surely can’t be a surprise anymore, but Bollywood and yes, we the media, insists it is one.
The reason: Bikinis and sex scenes might have finally come to India, but Bollywood’s approach on women’s bodies and their sexuality remains centred around titillation. And it is an approach that continues to make money, so why bother changing it?