In Hindi cinema, sex comedy as a genre has been fraught with problems. A number of sex comedies take inspiration from American franchises such as American Pie. The majority, like the Masti (2004) and Kya Kool Hai Hum (2005), have turned into successful franchises. Grand Masti (2013) was a sequel to the 2004 film and was one of the biggest box-office hits of that year.
Masti is how adult comedies took off in Hindi cinema. It had three sexually-deprived husbands-played by Aftab, Vivek Oberoi and Riteish Deshmukh in order of seniority-seeking extramarital fun outside home with the same Lara Dutta. The message in the end about staying faithful to spouses, some great performances by the entire cast, catchy music and above all, a fresh twist. The movie had it all and was the trailblazer for a number of sex comedies.
Movies like Kyaa Kool Hain Hum, No Entry, Kuch Kuch Locha Hai, Guddu Ki Gun and many others followed.
All these films, however, have generally been panned by critics for their crudeness and overtly misogynistic overtones. They are riddled with homophobia, transphobia and sexism. Women and even animals (ew) are reduced to sex objects. Far from their Hollywood inspirations, Bollywood tends to rely on tired jokes, slapstick humor, and over-the-top acting. Even ghosts have been sexualised in the movie.
Sex is a taboo and explored in hidden corners of society. However, the way it is dealt with on-screen is rather immature and outdated, relying on caricatures. Some of the most offensive are Mastizaade, Kya Kool Hain Hum 3, Great Grand Masti etc. Most movies starring Sunny Leone, Tusshar Kapoor, Aftab Shivdesani and Ritesh Deshmukh are bizarre sex comedies or horrex (horror + sex).
The comedy is juvenile and adolescent, with fantasizing about teachers and overtly obsessed with women’s bodies. Movies like Kya Kool Hain Hum franchise and Great Grand Masti ignore the storytelling of their successful predecessors and rely solely on porn scenarios without explicit sex scenes. The secretary-boss and sexy teacher are some of the common campy scenarios. Sexual harassment is often played off as comedy, especially if the male protagonist is being harassed by a gay man. Because that’s so funny.
Most of them fall in the ‘so-bad-they’re-good’ category. Women are reduced to blow-up sex dolls for men, only meant to show off their chest and hips. The filmmakers consciously capitalize on the sleaze value and barely focus on the story, plot or characters. The priority is the crass sexual content and raunchy scenes, the bare minimum required to prey on the average Indian man and produce box office numbers. Even the actors starring in them, like Vir Das and Sunny Leone, have criticised them.
The films are formulaic, given the staple ingredients of an average sex comedy is 2 hours of double entendres and close proximity to a beach for bikini scenes. The constant barrage of regressive nonsense gives a bad name to what should otherwise be a respectable and exciting genre.
Many actors have disavowed from being associated with one at any point.
Whatever sex comedies I’ve seen so far, I didn’t find them funny. I’ll never do one because it shows women in a particular light. Making woman the butt of all jokes, having sexual innuendos, double meanings just to titillate the audience is not entertaining
Audiences are desperate for a good sex comedies from Bollywood. The filmmakers often argue that the criticism exists because critics cannot stomach sexual content due to their ‘sanskari mindset’. However, audiences are readily enthusiastic about watching adult films that don’t just rely on cleavage shots.
Hunterr (2015) is a refreshing coming-of-age sex comedy with appropriate nuance and relying on smart comedy than crass scenes. Making progressive films on sex can encourage conversations on taboo topics.
The genre needs to be explored that can be fun, integrated with a larger plot and less eye candies.