I don’t think I will ever forget watching movies as a child and seeing the hero and the heroine disappear behind a tree or under an umbrella. As a child I always wondered what they were doing under there, and the focus on the bee pollinating the rose that inevitably followed never really helped me.
Till recently, the umbrella principle largely held for us as a society. We asked Choli ke Peeche Kiya Hai? and got the disingenuous Choli Mein Dil Hai Mera as the disappointing answer. However, it seems we as a society have finally arrived at the point that we can be trusted with more daring—and factual—answers.
We see love scenes being written in great detail in books, not just couples going to bed and waking up bathed in an after-sex pre-glow. Movies are featuring one-night stands and bedroom scenes and even some TV shows are adding in some mirch and masala close-ups.
So does this advance the cause of romance in our part of the world? I don’t know. It is a breath of fresh air to see sexuality up close and not left in the realm of ‘those books’ and ‘art’ movies. And yet, sometimes it feels like a collective loss of innocence on our part. Does the longing of the couple for their wedding night lose its charm if they are already co-habiting? Can clumsy embraces and stolen kisses be more titillating than overt sexual encounters?
I feel that in all mediums—books, television and films—the characters and the stories should drive the romance and intimacy. It would probably be unrealistic to expect a modern urban couple to simper and act coy. It is, however, equally off-putting to see a woman with strong values suddenly jumping into bed because a sex scene is the demand of the hour.
Romance comes in all packages, shy and sweet, bold and explorative and sizzling hot. It is up to the storyteller to take the reader by the hand and make her experience the romance, so that in each form, it is the natural conclusion, neither forced nor ridiculous. That, to me, is the true essence of romance.