Swara Bhasker has managed to literally get termed “bold” yet again. Her last outing ‘Veere Di Wedding’ saw her in a light of a character that isn’t the “stereotypical” girl. She even has scenes where she is using a vibrator to her pleasure. While many in the audience have loved the iconic scene and her performance throughout, a section certainly saw it as something “unacceptable” and “cheap”. And that has also got to do with the fact that in over a hundred years of the industry’s existence, an orgasm scene hasn’t been displayed that boldly.
Ira Bhaskar, a film historian with a Ph.D. from the Tisch School of Arts, is a professor of Cinema Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. And she’s also a proud mother of Swara. In conversation with a portal, though Ira didn’t specifically comment on the scenes in ‘Veere Di Wedding’, she did open up about such scenes in general and more.
When questioned about her observation of female sexuality or pleasure being depicted on screen over the decades, she opined, “Let me begin by saying that sexuality per se in Indian cinema is not a subject that has been directly expressed. At the same time, historically, our cinema is unique in the sense that it has developed, over the years, a very complex and refined idiom on eroticism. And that idiom is the song.
She further added, “A lot of things that can’t be addressed directly can be addressed through the song. Be it the Hindi film song, or the Bengali film song. Malayalam or Tamil. You don’t find this anywhere else—as a fundamental and defining feature of the form itself. A lot of the articulation was done through song. Emotional articulation. Articulation of what is tabooed. Sexuality and eroticism.”
Furthermore, stating some examples, she said, “Just think of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’: in that song ‘Jogan Ban Chali’, that word ‘jogan’ actually is Meera—the one who has renounced the world for her lover. So this completes dedication to the object of your passion. What is that but female desire?
These films didn’t have direct representation of sexual act or the act of lovemaking. Mahesh Bhatt has said that the most erotic sequence in Indian cinema is that of Dilip Kumar stroking Madhubala’s face in close up in ‘Mughal-e-Azam’.”
She even went on to add that in films like ‘Fire’, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and now ‘Veere Di Wedding’, you can see women who are sexually active. They make no qualms about what they want. They want to not be in a position of being humiliated for being who they are. Their choice and agency are very important.
Ira even expressed her thoughts that for such scenario to evolve, where women representation can be portrayed realistically, it will take some time.