Vidya Balan analyses what changed the definition of eroticism in a film actress over the years...
It is amazing to see the kind of journey that the portrayal of sensuality in women in Bollywood has taken. Till the 80s, men had no access to titillation except perhaps in magazines or desi detective novels, which were actually suggestive.
Then in the 80s, the video revolution happened and people could watch whatever they wanted within the confines of their homes; all sorts of fantasies were being catered to. Porn was available at the click of a button.
So it became a huge challenge for filmmakers to drag this particular set of audience out of the house to watch their films.
So it is interesting to see how the films of those days introduced this sexy woman who was disqualified to be a heroine, because the filmmakers were not yet comfortable with the sensuality of a 'good' woman. Since they had to include the titillation factor, the vamp was introduced.
And then by and by, they stopped pretending and these women were purely introduced as sex objects. They were after all competing with international porn, which was easily available to any man. So in came this dancing girl who was skimpily clad and who used lewd gestures.
Some of the scenes that these films, especially the south Indian ones had, were so suggestive that it sometimes gets shocking. Like this scene I saw of Silk Smitha trying to dance with the hero's leg placed on her crotch. She is balancing herself on her hands and legs and moving off the floor. It is incredible.
And then there is this scene where she has to seduce a horse! So, there were many kinky scenes but they couldn't go the whole hog. Makers started getting more and more creative and every film started including one such kinky song, hoping to get the audience into the theatre, at least for the sake of that song.
I think this piqued the interest of every man...I am surprised that many of my so-called polished male friends, who look down on Bollywood, have all watched movies like Kanti Shah ke angoor.
I think it was only in the 90s that heroines were allowed to be sexy. Suddenly it was okay to desire the heroine and not look at her just as someone who can be taken home to meet parents.
Songs like Dhak Dhak, Chholi ke peeche, Kaate nahi katthe, etc started being introduced. If you see Kaate nahi katthe, it is almost like Shridevi is making love to the camera, but hats off to her and Saroj Khan, that not for one moment it looked sleazy. Actresses got comfortable with sensuality and I think that was a good sign. Now of course, we have come a long way.