Filmmaker seeks to bust pornography myths
Madhureeta Anand, whose directorial Kajarya addressed the issue of female foeticide, is planning to make 'Know Your Porn' – a five-episode series
India, where sex is largely considered a taboo subject, is ironically among the largest porn consumers in the world. Madhureeta Anand, a filmmaker known to combine her craft with social activism, is now out to make a non-fiction web series 'Know Your Porn' to explore aspects of the country's consumption of pornography.
Anand, whose directorial Kajarya addressed the issue of female foeticide, has started a campaign on crowdfunding platform Wishberry for raising Rs 10 lakhs to make 'Know Your Porn' – a five-episode series – which could become a reality in around three months from now. Her aim? To initiate a discussion so that men are more empowered to make informed choices – and women are harassed less.
The idea of working on the project dawned on Anand after she closely interacted with men of some lower middle-class and middle-class areas of the capital.
"There has been a deluge of this (porn) material. In India, we have these WhatsApp groups that these men are on, and a lot of such material is shared there. It's not like you're voluntarily seeking this material, but it's just being thrown at you," said Anand, adding that even more worrying is the circulation of rape videos and child pornography. "People should be able to tell the difference and shut themselves from it," added the Gurugram-based filmmaker.
According to a 2015 study by a leading adult website, India had become the third-largest porn-watching population after the US and Britain. Anand feels thrusting pornography on others, even when they don't seek it, is "forming people's minds in a very wrong way at a juncture when things are not really sweet for women and children in the country".
"We are talking about safety of women, about safety of children, regarding educating women; but we are not talking about something which is so widespread in everybody's phone. Around 70 per cent of all internet traffic in India is porn, and this is going to people who have no introduction to it," said Anand, who believes there's a dire need to facilitate right sex education in India, which has the world's largest youth population.
With the series, Anand plans to address questions like: Is pornography legal in India? Is the sex you see in pornography real sex or just something manufactured? What is porn addiction? Why you should choose your porn and not watch child pornography or highly violent porn? Is pornography disempowering both men and women?
These will be short videos that can be easily shared through a platform like WhatsApp, which, for now, is contributing to the proliferation of pornography in the country. Anand also feels addiction to porn is giving people unrealistic expectations about what to expect from sex, and in some cases, leading to demands of replicating the acts. "A lot of porn, about 90 per cent of it, is put on. So, sizes of bodies, what they do, how they act... That's not real sex... A lot of women who we have spoken to are also complaining, because guys have these weird ideas and they want to do stuff which they have seen in porn videos," Anand said.
The series will be distributed through multiple channels – via organisations such as Men Engage, Azad Foundation and Centre for Health and Social Justice; on Anand's YouTube channel MA Films; on WhatsApp groups that usually circulate pornographic material; by showing it in colleges and educational institutions; and the makers will also offer it to anyone willing to hold talks and meetings with men to discuss pornography.
Has the internet opened up an important avenue to bring risque subjects to the fore? "Absolutely," said Anand. "I think the web platform is a more personal platform and so you can push boundaries and speak about real things. You don't have to cater to an audience really, and that's the whole basis of successes on the web.
'Game of Thrones' being a case in point," she added, pointing how the medium has given a new lease of life to those like her who want to make socially relevant
statements via films.