Women and Sexuality in Indian Cinema

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WOMEN, SEXUALITY AND INDIAN CINEMA
By Shoma A. Chatterji WORD-COUNT: 1900 Recent films like Tauba Tauba, Murder, Julie and Jism have focussed on something not explored before in mainstream cinema - the sexuality of the Indian woman. Though this has given the director and producer ample scope for exploring the anatomy of the woman in a hundred different ways to lure the box office, the one positive spin-off of these films is that they have uncovered the sexual desires of the Indian woman. The woman need not be beautiful though it is mandatory that she has a beautiful body. The woman need not be single either.

Sexuality of women in Indian cinema has historically been ignored so far as women’s autonomous expression of
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The top-angle shots painfully bring across Phoolan’s vulnerability and senseless humiliation, true. But it is also true that for once, Kapoor definitely and unambiguously designs the camera to turn voyeur in a deliberate attempt to attract the attention of a global audience. Not surprising therefore, that the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts chose to rate Bandit Queen among the ten best films ever made. However, the same film also acknowledges the sexual desire of Phoolan when she falls in love with Vikram Mallah. When Vikram is recovering from a gunshot wound in the thigh, in hiding in Kanpur, Phoolan strides atop him and makes love to him like a man, the more aggressive partner in sex. It underscores the mutations in the life and style of an unlettered woman who has been subjected to repeated rape, who has grown into a sexually aggressive woman, who no longer shies away from her physical needs. Whether this is a consequence of her acquiring the male masquerade or, is due to her passion for Vikram remains ambiguous.

Did Mansi in Basu Bhattacharya's film Aastha commit adultery? This is a rather piquant question since the fact of her sleeping around with men who are not her husband/s is undercut by the fact that she is paid for the 'services' she renders. In other words, she is a prostitute who sells herself
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