There's a new Indian website that's not quite like the others. Welcome to "Savita Bhabhi", the first porn comic strip "made in India". A fine mix of sex and tradition that's managed to both tantalise and traumatise the country that gave birth to the Kama Sutra.
Many websites have fallen victim to an X-rating in India, but one that's yet to be branded is homemade comicstrip Savita Bhabhi. The formula is simple (a voluptuous young woman who finds herself in compromising situations), but the social implications are slightly more complicated. Savita Bhabhi is an experimental mix of both old-fashioned values and modern concepts. The leading character is a married woman - particularly evident because her the part in her hair is died deep red and she wears a gold pendant (equivalent to a wedding ring). She also wears the traditional sari and the red dot between her eyebrows (the bindi).
Savita's husband is often away, so to escape the boredom she sleeps with various passers-by. For this bhabhi (which means sister-in-law), nothing is taboo, not even incest - which is a subject that Indian webusers seem to be particularly fond of. One page of this volatile saga is published every day and translated into nine national languages. The site has already provoked complaints, according to the Information and Technology minister, and could soon face censorship. No doubt its 30,000 subscribers won't be too pleased.
"It can... have bad consequences on traditional Indian values"
Renuka Renuka Singh is a sociologist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Dehli.By having a bhabhi (sister-in-law) as the main character, Savita Bhabhi is very provocative. But by doing so, it forces people to question what outward appearance is about. More than 70% of the Indian population is still very traditional. Yet the way you look is not always representative of your lifestyle. You can wear the sari and have a traditional image, but have a very active and even libertine sex life. And that is what Savita Bhabhi illustrates in some ways. What happens behind the curtains is very different from what social reality shows. People know about it, and have always known about it, but it is not something that is talked about.
I don't think our society is ready for that yet. Even though the young generation is a bit more straight-forward, discussing your sex life openly is still taboo. On one hand, Savita Bhabhi is a cartoon; it's a fantasy made out of drawings. Therefore it doesn't completely violate our cultural reality. Showing real people would be much more aggressive towards our traditions. On the other hand, even though it is "only" a cartoon, it can still have bad consequences on traditional Indian values. Trust is very important in our society. Relationships are based on trust. By depicting a married woman having sex with whoever, Savita Bhabhi could break this trust. Also, it teaches men the wrong idea by making them think it is okay to reduce women to sexual objects."
"Indian porn literature has a lot of incest involved in it"
Arnab Das, 33, is the co-producer of an Indian news channelThis is the first time we've seen an Indian porn cartoon series. But it was just a matter of time before Indian cartoon would venture into porn. Sex is not a taboo topic any more. Cable channels, DVDs and the internet have made porn easily available.
Savita Bhabhi essentially means your elder brother's wife. The choice of such a character is smart since Indian porn literature has a lot of incest involved in it. Indian porn sites are increasingly using bhabhi as an icon. Hard to explain why. Psychologists take exception to the proliferation of such websites saying the portrayal of bhabhi in such a poor light can have an adverse impact on the way a traditional Indian male considers family values.
Maybe it will to a certain extent. But, I don't think there'll be any major change in mentality because of it. Incest is as common in India as it may be in the rest of the world. Just search for Kay Parker, the biggest incestuous porn star of the eighties, look on a few sites around the world and you can see can that incest's a part of the deal. I'm not justifying it; I'm just saying the truth. So, I didn't find the cartoon shocking. What kicks you is your own call. Morality is a personal deal. From a juridical point of view though, these guys can face criminal charges for the distribution of porn literature. The Indian cyber laws are getting strict."
A strip from "Savita Bhabhi"