I caught myself wondering if there was ever a mainstream Indian movie whose narrative allowed a woman: a) to have a sexual liaison before marriage, b) or being ‘accepted’ back into the marriage after a sexual affair.

Yes, the sexual in italics. Now there are a lot of Indian movies, and a host of Hindi cinema titles pop in my head, where sexual interest is hinted at- perfect segue for a dramatic song of unrequited passion or a montage of pining love- but not consummated. Without listing out specifics (like everyone’s favourite example of Nandini-Sameer from the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam extravaganza), ‘shaadi ke baad’ or ‘after marriage’ has demonized non-marital sex for generations. Hundreds of glossy-maned and starry-eyed young (yes, no matter which -wood you pick your movie from, they are for physically-abled and young; the other side of thirty is saved for awards-only scripts and as for LGBT, you will have to look for a different genre in Netflix hon, it doesn’t fall under ‘regular’ romance) men and women have exemplified relationships based on chaste love and a shelf-life of eternity on silver screen. You don’t find the loud chest-thumping of masculinity of yester years anymore. It’s contemporarily the subtext now.

For women on screen sex comes with entertainment tax – guilt. Whether it’s Shikha in Metro or Aditi in Astitva, everybody is pregnant with guilt. And it is unplanned, they don’t seek it. Neglect from their husbands makes them vulnerable to mortal cravings.  Otherwise, they are to possess a nefarious streak like Mrs. Sonia Khanna from Jism or be deliriously vacuous like Kaya from Dil Kabbadi.

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