In the early 90’s, an ad by the name “Mr. coffee”, featuring Bollywood actress Malaika Arora Khan and actor Arbaaz Khan, was banned . The ad, due to its sexual overtones, created quite a controversy in the early 90’s. The tagline of the ad “real pleasure can’t come in an instant” had created much havoc. It was banned then, but in 2012 a similar streak resurfaced. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was seen advertising for a coffee brand in a similar fashion. The concept of good coffee explained through a ‘sexy’ commercial is not very satisfying but still it fetches audience. The question that emerges is does sex “sell” in the Indian advertising industry? And does the abundance of advertisements with sexual innuendoes reflect back on the nature of Indian community as well?
In 2012 again, another Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif featured in a mango drink advertisement with the title of “Aamsutra”. The audience can easily link it to be a derivative of the term Kamasutra, which is an ancient Sanskrit text giving rules for sensuous and sexual pleasure. The actress is portrayed in a seductive way and the ad can easily be identified as having sexual undertones. The 2007 Wild Stone deodorant is one among the many to fall under the same banner. Sex indeed did sell for this ad. The uncensored ad is available on Youtube and has had over 8 lakh hits. The ad shot during Durga Puja depicts how a homely Bengali girl bumps into a Hot man and the Wild Stone deo takes them into a fantasy land. This fantasy land is the area which never gained much attention.
In most of the advertisements with sexual innuendoes the characters are driven to a fantasy land where their fantasy or hidden sexualities appear. It is visible in Deepika Padukone’s coffee ad or the deodorant ads. This fantasy land is shown as the space devoid of any limits or rules. A person in the fantasy land, when time comes, comes back to the normative mode of living. This normative mode is the place of norms, rules, a code of conduct et al. The traditional Bengali girl goes back into the festive traditional realm after her fantasy is over. Actor Purab Kohli fantasizing Deepika Padukone comes back to realm of social behavior at the end of the ad. The fantasizing of sex is the major problem this nation has gripped itself into.
India is one of the first countries to give sex education a scientific value by introducing Kamasutra. Despite this, sex education is least in this country. Sex is considered a taboo topic to be discussed. It may be discussed in homo-social groups such as girl to girl or boy to boy but not in hetero-social groups. We all have experienced changing channels when a sexually explicit scene is shown on television, especially when one is sitting with the whole family. Sex education is not given to children. They acquire it and that is never accurate. The thing which is not known properly or tabooed intrigues human mind the most. The Indian advertising Industry got the nerve of this.
I could never understand the sexualizing of Condom ads. Condom is supposed to be a contraceptive measure to protect unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It is a progressive invention for a healthy way of living. Unfortunately, it is also a tabooed topic in India. What can be noticed is that the advertisements of male condoms are highly sexualized while on the other hand measures for female contraceptives are shown to be instructive and guiding.
A similar pattern is visible for the deodorants ads well. Male deodorant ads are shown to be explicitly sexual as compared to female deodorant ads. The sexualizing of male advertisements gives a chance to portray women as lustily hankering after men. Some advertisements even use enhanced female body parts to sell their items. It makes the women appear willing to give into male fantasy and look lusty while men in the ad maintain a staunch position.
The nation which is devoid of the much needed sex education is likely to develop fissures like the sexual fantasy land which will never let the reality get a serious attention. Fissures like such also enhance the chances of negative portrayal of women. What is needed is the right amount of knowledge in the right form. Sex education is not the ill effect of modernity. By contrast, it is the needed effect which can help in reducing the crime rates to a considerable extent.