A Brief History of Bollywood Sex and Romance

A Brief History of Bollywood Sex and Romance (photo)

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You can’t beat the Bollywood classics for their overt romantic tension, where intimate touching (yes, even kissing!) was replaced with the poetic, polite innuendo of hot rain and wet clothing. It’s funny that they’d be so reserved about what happens between consenting adults, considering India is the second most populous country in the world. (We know they’re doing it!) In some ways, however, B’wood has become more relaxed in its attitudes, as younger, Western-influenced generations come of age and make waves in an industry built on tradition. Previously unseen “taboos” like pre-marital sex, onscreen nudity and even wife-swapping have curiously been passed by the Central Board of Film Certification, the strict watchdog equivalent of the MPAA that has served as a censor since the early ’50s. Gathered below is a look at the landmark moments and trends that have raised eyebrows through Bollywood history.

06262009_MughaleAzam.jpgBehind the Steamy Scenes

Screen icons Dilip Kumar and the beautiful Madhubala fell in love both on screen and off in 1951’s “Tarana,” while she was still a teenager. Fearful that Kumar would steal away his breadwinner, Madhubala’s father refused to let her see him or even go on location shooting when the two were signed to co-star in 1957’s “Naya Daur” together. This led to two messy lawsuits, the couple’s dirty laundry aired in court, and an uncomfortable decade-long shoot for 1960’s “Mughal-e-Azam,” during which the break-up occurred. Similarly fueling the gossip mill were speculations over actor-filmmaker Raj Kapoor (see below) and his longtime muse Nargis, which likely helped the box office success of their movies for years. But it doesn’t get more scandalous than when actress Rekha turned up at a 1980 celebrity wedding wearing rings and sindoor (red powder in the part of a woman’s hair, symbolizing marriage), basically announcing her coupling with former screen partner Amitabh Bachchan, who was also in attendance but already married to Jaya Bhaduri. The three even co-starred in 1981’s infidelity triangle drama “Silsila,” which is as weirdly sensational as if the three-headed tabloid monster Brangelinaniston had agreed to star in a quasi-autobiographical film about their relationships.

06262009_Bobby.jpgThe X-Ray Glasses of the Imagination

Victoria’s Secret could’ve made a killing if they’d invested in Bollywood during the ’70s and ’80s, when the appearance of a plain white brassiere represented the forbidden nature of onscreen toplessness. An actress wearing just her over-the-shoulder boulder holder who turned out the lights, for instance, would be implying that she’d soon be showing her breasts to her lover. If anyone realized the power of such clothed titillation, it was Raj Kapoor, whose films began to push the envelope late in his directorial career. His unparalleled 1973 teen romance “Bobby” made an overnight pin-up sensation of Dimple Kapadia when she appeared in a bikini, and 1978’s “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram” (which faced an uphill battle with the censor board, and was criticized by some as being exploitative) saw Zeenat Aman in a barely-there sari that defied physics by staying on. His final film, 1985’s “Ram Teri Ganga Mali” caused further controversy when 16-year-old star Mandakini appeared bathing in a waterfall, wearing only a sheer white sari that made no attempt to conceal her nipples. Today, bikini babes are far more prevalent in Bollywood culture, and 2000’s “Hera Pheri” even depicted male sunbathers in bikinis, mistaken as girls from a distance by the film’s protagonist.

06262009_dhoom2.jpgLurid Lip Locks

Up until the ’50s, if Bollywood stars wanted to express love or even lust onscreen, clasping each other’s hands and staring longingly was about as risqué as it got. Hugging and light face caressing became the next leap over the following three decades, but it wasn’t until the ’90s that kissing was really acknowledged, let alone done. A woman might lean in for lip service, but would shyly run away before the deal was sealed, or else the actual act would be covered by a veil in the moment before, like some “Austin Powers” gag. While this, too, is changing today (superstar actor Aamir Khan even has a kissing clause put in his co-stars’ contracts; if they won’t kiss him, they can’t act opposite him), puckering up can still be contentious. Padmini Kolhapure made headlines when she merely gave Prince Charles a peck on the cheek, and after Aishwarya Rai smooched Hrithik Roshan in 2006’s “Dhoom 2,” obscenity cases were filed. Most recently, everyone heard about the stir Richard Gere caused in 2007 when he playfully re-enacted his “Shall We Dance?” pose, catching Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty off-guard with a snog during an AIDS awareness benefit. Shetty told the press it wasn’t a big deal; people on the streets of Bhopal burned her posters in effigy anyway.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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