Sex sells! Just the word garners more eyeballs than one can imagine. But the moment films have any form of sexual content; they are viewed as porn with meaningless nudity and obscenity, considered unsuitable for family viewing. However erotica as a genre is not just about titillating audiences; it often has a strong subject, a larger message set against sensual undertones. Erotic films are not new to Hindi cinema and every decade has had its share of sensuous content. And with new filmmakers coming in, this genre is being explored like never before.

Pandolin takes a look at some of the most erotic films in Hindi cinema.


Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978): This Zeenat Aman-Shashi Kapoor starrer screams erotica. Raj Kapoor’s bold directorial venture intended to showcase inner beauty and how it is unaffected by external appearance. Way ahead of its times, the film has Zeenat Aman showing ample skin and also a lovemaking scene between the lead actors which lead to its share of controversy. Satyam Shivam Sundaram was one of the few movies that also highlighted a woman’s desires rather than showing her as coy and passive. The film was banned for sometime and did not do well at the box office but gave way to more mainstream films that explored erotica. It does remain one of the boldest films in Hindi cinema.


Utsav (1984): Directed by Girish Karnad, Utsav is an adaptation of a Sanskrit drama called ‘Mrichchhakatika’. Renowned humorist Sharad Joshi penned the dialogs for the film. The multi-starrer film that marked the debut of Shekhar Suman revolves around a courtesan who falls in love with a poor Brahmin man. Though it has several bare-all scenes, what sets the movie apart is the non-titillating manner in which eroticism is portrayed. Rekha plays a seductress with élan in this period drama, which depicts sexuality with artistic perfection. Utsav however failed to create magic at the box office.


Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985): Actresses wearing transparent saris and bathing under the waterfalls was one of the most common ways to titillate viewers way back in the 70s and 80s. And Ram Teri Ganga Maili could be called the pioneer of this phenomenon. Another one of Raj Kapoor’s films that portray eroticism, this film used the female protagonist as a metaphor for the river Ganges that is being polluted by commoners. It had several much talked about scenes with in-your-face nudity and Mandakini is till date remembered for the unabashed skin show, which was a bold move for an actress at that time. Though an A-rated film, it is one of the biggest commercial successes.

Kamasutra (1996): True to its name, Mira Nair’s tale of love was replete with sex and sensuality.It portrays a woman’s bold search for her freedom, personal and sexual. Kamasutra had a raw appeal yet the eroticism was captured in an exotic and sensuous manner. And the fact that a female director helmed this erotic saga, makes it all the more unique. During filming in India, the film was called ‘Maya & Tara’ to avoid trouble with government officials who would have otherwise denied permissions to shoot here. The film was initially banned in India because of the erotic content and later cut extensively for a theatrical release in the country.


Jism (2003): An erotic thriller, Jism was driven by lust and desire. The film plays on the premise of an extra marital affair and its ill-fated ending. John Abraham and the sultry Bipasha Basu shared a fantastic chemistry that made the scenes sensuous rather than awkward. Bipasha Basu oozes sexuality with confidence while John Abraham became the newfound heartthrob. The film started a trend of films that combined the racy elements of a thriller and intense passion. Jism was inspired by the 1981 film Body Heat, which in turn was inspired by the 1944 movie Double Indemnity.


Murder (2004): Starring Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat, Murder had it all – fiery passion, deceit, sex. The film is remembered for its lip-locks and steamy scenes between the lead actors. The plot of the film and several scenes are said to be copied from the Hollywood film, Unfaithful. Though Mallika Sherawat was said to have no qualms about shedding her clothes or doing bold scenes, she apparently refused to shoot any nude scenes at the last moment and a body double had to be used. Anurag Basu’s film got cash registers ringing and Mallika earned the tag of a sex symbol. It also led to the making of two more equally erotic sequels.


The Dirty Picture (2011): The film was loosely inspired by the life of the south Indian actress Silk Smitha who was known for her erotic roles. The Dirty Picture was first offered to Kangna Ranaut but she turned it down. Vidya Balan too was skeptical about the role due to the skimpy outfits that the character had to wear. But she agreed and gave an award-winning performance as a struggling actor who becomes an overnight sensation and burns the screen with her sex appeal. The film is not just limited to erotic scenes but the dialogs by Rajat Arora too spice up the bold appeal and entertainment value of the film.


B.A. Pass (2013): Adapted from the short story, ‘The Railway Aunty’, B.A.Pass is the story of a young small town college student who moves to Delhi and has a torrid affair with an older aunty. Ajay Bahl has shot and directed the film that has Shilpa Shukla playing the seductive older woman. Richa Chadda was also considered for the role. The film touches upon a larger issue of manipulation of innocence and male prostitution too. B.A.Pass has several sexually charged scenes that are aesthetically shot and the Censors passed it without any cuts. It has travelled to several film festivals and won critical acclaim and several accolades.


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