From her debut in Parineeta to her raunchy, gutsy role in The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan has tried her hand at a whole gamut of roles. Vidya has played the girl next door in Munna Bhai, the sexy wife in Shaadi Ke Side Effects, the seductive widow in Ishqiya (just to name a few of her roles and films). What she has made clear with every film choice of hers, though, is that she is not afraid to talk about sex. Vidya doesn't seem to take on any roles that require her to be the coy subservient woman and has, therefore, by default or as a deliberate choice, broken many stereotypes. She isn't afraid to embrace and show off her sexuality and this has time and again opened up and given rise to many debates.
This time Vidya Balan chose to talk about sex and how. Prior to the release of her next film, Tumhari Sulu, Vidya decided to be as candid as possible and address how the attitude towards sex in India is plain wrong and hypocritical. "It feels funny how in spite of being the most populated country in the world, we still don't talk about sex openly. The idea of sex is looked down by people because Indian culture wants us to be sexual only in the institution of marriage, for purposes of procreation. But the whole feeling, the joy of intimacy, pleasure and fun is missing," Vidya was quoted by news agency IANS as saying.
"We must strive for a traditional and yet modern balance, and aim for the hypocrisy related to sex to go away. Our children need to know that sex is a feeling, not a taboo," she said.
Addressing the issue that Vidya Balan brought to light, we spoke to Nandita Sarma, a clinical psychologist.
"It has always been ingrained in our minds that SEX is bad and dirty. So when we grow up, it is very difficult for us to acknowledge and accept or even allow ourselves to enjoy sex. The truth is that sex, as health boosting as it is, is becoming increasingly low-priority among the urban population of a country where intercourse has traditionally been seen as a necessity for keeping the lineage alive rather than an instrument of bonding between the partners" said Nandita.
"With the increase of apps like Tinder etc, even though people are engaging in sex a lot more, the understanding and awareness of it as a feeling is still very primitive. In case we have forgotten, Shiva is very sexual and as part of our heritage we have celebrated sex and desire in general as one of the goals of living", Nandita continued.
Vidya Balan has also sarcastically pointed out the irony in how the land of Khajuraho and Kama Sutra is now beset by shyness over talking about sex.
Nandita Sarma also spoke about how not talking about sex actually affects adolescents or young adults who might be sexually curious, but don't have an outlet to get the correct information or let out the information they might have gotten.
"Desire is more prominent in our society because exposure to sex is from unrealistic sources. It has never been spoken about openly at our homes in healthy, secure environments therefore it becomes a little skewed. There needs to be space to talk about sex and to understand it from an early age and learn to express it. As parents, we need to learn the art of talking about sex and help to direct and guide them to a place of understanding and away from the taboo that has been so prevalent. Help them express their curiosity in a safe place like home. You can't control when and how they have sex but you can help them look at sex differently! Sex education needs to be made a priority and not just to protect from STDs and pregnancy but as a tool for clarity and awareness about self and others." concluded Nandita.
Nandita Sarma is a Clinical psychologist at Innerspace Mumbai, working with relationships, parenting, addictions and sex therapy.