Love, Sex and Taboos

Love in India offers the viewer an almost anthropological enquiry into our collective discomfort with matters of the heart and of the crotch

01 May 2011

TWO MONTHS AGO, the Navi Mumbai police busted the most peculiar 'racket'. An unidentified, ingenious entrepreneur had picked up on the city's space deficit and its lack of privacy. His solution was low-cost, though somewhat uncomfortable. He set up about eight to 10 makeshift shelters about 10 to 15 kilometres deep inside the mangrove jungle abutting Mini Chowpatty, a popular Navi Mumbai hangout and rented them out to couples desperate for some privacy. The rate was affordable—'100 per hour. The mosquito coil was complimentary.

The incident seems like a scene straight out of Love in India, the edgy 91-minute documentary directed by Kaushik Mukherjee, who goes by the initial 'Q'. In fact, if the film hadn't already been wrapped up and released by then, there's every chance this 'racket' would have been given the kind of coverage and analysis it deserved. Every aspect and player of the story—from the dearth of privacy to the ingenuity on the part of the entrepreneur to the reporter who ratted to the cops to the couples who no longer have the luxury of making mosquito-free love amongst mangroves—is symptomatic of the duplicitous nature of contemporary India's relationship with sex and love—the premise of Q's compelling documentary.

What merits acclaim is the film's tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the complexities that govern our dichotomous behaviour—our collective adulation for adulterers Radha and Krishna, and yet, our intolerance towards adultery; our veneration of the lingam and the yoni and yet, our disapproval of sex education; our endorsement of on-screen vulgarity and yet, our aversion to "indecency" off-screen; our indulgence in pornography behind closed doors and yet, our opposition to public display of affection.

Rosalyn D'Mello is a freelance writer based in New Delhi. She was previously the theatre writer at Time Out Mumbai.

Keywords: Mumbai documentary love sex taboo Kaushik Mukherjee