"For me, a normal man is one who turns his head to see a beautiful woman's bottom." - Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' (1970)
There comes a moment in a boy’s life when he loses his innocence with his own hands, and quite literally so. Today, as a 30-year old man, I do not feel any hesitation talking about it. But seventeen years ago, when it happened to me, in the summer of ’97, it was confusing and scary, but also thrilling and unprecedentedly pleasurable. Today, that image of guilt-ridden misadventures of my little self, looking for privacy in a big, joint family in the summer heat appears almost endearing to me. I wish I could go back and have a talk of reassurance with the teenaged me and advise about having the most of that colourful period of sexual discovery. Back then I had no one to talk to, and for better or for worse, movies were my only guide, this time into the world of forbidden pleasures.
By now you know that I was in this ashram-hostel with no access to TV, or other means of entertainment. I hope you will not laugh with a sense of mocking if I tell you that the introduction to human reproductive system that was only suggestive and left a lot for imagination in our seventh-grade science text book was a big hit in our hostel. Some of us borrowed those well-illustrated manuals from the library for ‘higher studies’ and then the entire dormitory read the chapter on reproduction with more interest than any other topic from any other subject in our course. And we often took refuge in our own secretive acts of pleasure, taking help from newspaper cuttings, illegal magazines, and memories of what we saw on TV during vacations.
My Dad brought cable TV home exactly one year after the onset of my male menarche and I was suddenly exposed to all kinds of content, including the unending parade on FTV. There was this music channel, I don’t remember its name, that aired a show called ‘Shabab’ at 11 in the night. I had discovered it one night browsing the channels looking for something of ‘interest’. I had the reputation, and rightly so, of being very fond of studying, apart from doing my homework. So I, kind of, earned the right to remain awake until late night. Whenever I felt sleepy, I turned on the TV, and then went back to my studies – was the excuse I gave to my parents. The truth was that I kept watching TV all night, until either my eyes were dead tired, or my Baba caught and lectured me. So when I discovered ‘Shabab’, it was one of the most amazingly fulfilling discoveries of my life. The show was a collection of erotic songs from Hindi cinema. The three songs that always come to my mind when I think of it – and I will only hint at those to test your knowledge – starred the pairs of Pooja Bhatt and Rahul Roy, Madhuri Dixit and Vinod Khanna, and Dimple Kapadia and Anil Kapoor. Today, these songs do nothing to me, and wouldn’t do much to today’s kids either, but back then they were scandalous and inviting and I couldn’t bat an eye-lid as they played on TV, on mute!
We also heard about movies like ‘Fire’ and ‘Kamasutra’ (both 1996) but never really got a chance to watch them. I also remember very well that Dad was disapproving of the stuff we watched on TV because we mostly watched trailers and songs of upcoming movies, some of it being lurid, and suggestive. Today, it is so common that perhaps most parents have taken it for granted. Back then it was not. And he used to voice it out to my Mom, his concern regarding what we watched. Mom always replied to him with supreme confidence in me. “Even when he is watching those dirty songs, he is only focussing on the making, the craft and the choreography and music. So there’s no need to worry!” She barely knew that in the very adjacent room, her good son was actually burning with desire!
Raveena Tandon was one of my sex goddesses. ‘Tip tip barsa paani’ from ‘Mohra’ (1994) has to be one song that turned me insane. And then there was this scene from ‘Aatish’ (also 1994) where she is showing off the scars on her body to Sanjay Dutt. Today it all looks so cheesy and cheap. Back then it was pure gold for me. I also particularly liked Pooja Batra who had obviously zero talent but an amazingly pretty smile and something irresistibly sexy about her. I never found Mamta Kulkarni that appealing, although she was a big hit among my friends. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t seen much of her. The famous Rekha-Akshay Kumar song from ‘Khilaadiyon ka Khilaadi’ (1996) was again something I had heard a lot about but couldn’t really manage to see until very late in my life. Strangely, Madhuri Dixit who had a very clean image was an object of my fancy because of two films she did with Sanjay Kapoor – ‘Raja’ (1995) and ‘Mohabbat’ (1997). The white sari she wore in the latter in a rainy scene with Akshay Khanna remained etched in my memory forever. Urmila Matondkar in ‘Daud’ (1997), Rani Mukherji in ‘Ghulam’ (1998), Karishma Kapoor in ‘Biwi No. 1’ (1999) and Sushmita Sen in ‘Sirf Tum’ (1999) were also maddeningly desirable for the little teenager I was. But the best among all these lovely ladies was, I wish you guessed it right, the inimitable and unsurpassable Sonali Bendre. She stormed into the imagination of that innocent boy I was with her dance moves in ‘Duplicate’ (1998). And then, in 1999, came the song that I undoubtedly consider the sexiest motion picture experience of my life, bigger than Sharon Stone’s ‘Basic Instinct’ – ‘Jo haal dil ka’ from ‘Sarfarosh’. To be honest, all the songs and scenes mentioned above have aged really poorly, but not this. It still gives me the same pleasure, albeit minus the thrill I had while trying to catch it in the hall of my house, the hall with four entrances where anyone could walk in from any direction, as it required a serious and meticulous vigil to keep enjoying these pictures on the TV without being caught and getting my reputation ruined forever. It is still intact, by the way. Guess, now that my Mom reads this blog post she will realise what I was up to way back then growing up under her proud protection.