From Blue Film Theatres To Steamy Softcore Porn – A History Of Porn In India - Homegrown

From Blue Film Theatres To Steamy Softcore Porn – A History Of Porn In India

India’s 1.3 billion-plus population clearly loves getting screwed, just not by the country’s moral police. Though the government’s 2015 pornography ban attempted to target deeper cultural issues such as sex trafficking and child abuse, it only made more apparent how much we Indians love our Tamil aunties and Sunny Leone. It’s no surprise then that their second attempt to ban porn was met with a healthy dose of exasperation and skepticism. In a country where PDA is met with public beatings and videos of rape and assault are sold recreationally, India’s ideas of sex and consent are already murky and mixed up. Is porn a symptom or a cause and who should be the final authority on such questions, anyway?

We don’t have all the answers, but here is a deep dive into the evolution of porn in India.

1970: Erotica Or “Blue Film” Theatres Become The Rage

There are many conflicting theories behind how the term “blue film” came into being, but what this term connotes especially in the Indian context is fairly undisputed — blue films is a popular term used to refer to erotic cinema. The inception and subsequent popularity of blue film theatres is monumental when talking about the evolution of porn in India. In early 1970s, it was usually rundown single screen theatres that initially began showing porn films and were frequented by working class men, who turned to steamy softcore movies, which were the closest things to porn in a pre-internet India. The trend caught on like wildfire and blue film theatres began cropping up across the country.

1999: Kaam Tantra - Steamy Soft Porn Becomes Blockbuster

Kama Tantra, which released in 1999 became one of the first softcore porn films that went on to become a huge box-office success. Biwi Anadi Sali Khiladi, released in 2002, was another blue film that followed suit and became a roaring success.

2000: Raunchy, Low Budget, C-Grade Films Replace Banned ‘Blue Film’ Screens

In the year 2000, the moral police clamped down blue film screenings across India. But Indians struck back with a vengeance and this act of rebellion marked the inception of low budget C grade cinema. C grade films are infamous for their lack of a plot-line or narrative and usually utilises the cheapest available technology for film making purposes. However, what these films do promise to deliver are an abundance of lewd double entendres.

2004: Porn OK Please - The Internet And India Become ‘Chaddi’ Buddies

The rise of the digital age gave porn new avenues, further aided by internet becoming more affordable and easily accessible. The internet became India’s new best friend. This was further reinforced when Reliance Jio entered the Indian market. The subsequent fall in data rates not only increased internet accessibility but also led to increase in porn viewership in rural areas by approximately 75% especially through low-storage mobile devices in Tier II and Tier III zones.

2008: Savita Bhabi Reigns As India’s First Digital Porn Icon

In 2008, despite tall claims of morality, we saw the birth of a porn icon, draped in saree, adorned with bangles and bindi. Started by a UK based businessman Puneet Agrawal, Savita walked into public consciousness garnering much attention as she shattered all the moulds of the supposed morality an Indian woman was supposed to conform to. Though we’re not suggesting that she is necessarily a role model for Indian women (she’s a pretty awful judge of character and has gone as far as to entice teens) the impunity with which she gets what she wants is refreshing on a mass consumption scale..

2013: Savita Bhabi’s Box-Office Break - India’s First Animated Adult Film

“India, 2070. The world has changed a lot. Freedom of speech has taken a hit to the nuts and censorship is everywhere. Citizens seem to have accepted it. But one man, his fat nerdy friend and the hottest fictional character India has ever seen are not about to take the injustice lying down!” reads the movie’s plot summary. After taking over the internet with her digital comic strip, in 2013, Savita Bhabi set out to conquer the box-office. At the receiving end of mixed reviews, this animated adult film definitely made head turns.

2015: Indian Government’s Attempt To Ban Porn Goes Limp

It was in 2015 that the Indian Government first attempted to ban porn. The reason backing the moral police’s decision to do away with pornography was fuelled by the aim of preventing porn from becoming a “social nuisance”. This move was met with a sea of public outrage that later resulted in authorities lifting the ban later that year.

2018: Porn Ban 2.0 - The Moral Police Cracks Its Whip Again

Reliance Jio banned users from accessing porn sites on October 26, 2018. Leading service providers across the country are followed suit. The ban was a result of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) ordering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block 827 adult websites in the country that host pornographic content. “All the Internet service licensees are instructed to take immediate necessary action for blocking of 827 websites as per the direction from MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and IT) and for the compliance of the Hon’ble High Court order,” stated the order.

Still in the midst of being implemented, this ban is already being challenged by portals such as Pornhub that have adopted strategies to work around this ban by changing their web addresses. However, the question on everyone’s minds is whether this ban is actually here to stay or will it meet the same fate as the government’s previous attempt.

Research by Kavya Venkataraman.

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