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Payal, Tina, Anjali, Kavya…
Just a set of names of Indian women? Search them on YouTube and you’re in for a surprise. No, you don’t find interesting sari and jewellery advertisements. What you will find are videos of lesbian action.
Payal and Tina jiving to a romantic Bollywood number; Anjali and Kavya intimate in the shower; two Malayali housewives on a sleep over; and, of course, the Indian mast gulabi jawans. These are only some examples of the often hilarious videos of lesbians on YouTube, a popular website featuring videos from across the world. A search for “Indian lesbians” will give you thousands of surprising results. While the “Indian lesbian kiss” might be the most popular, the Indian cat fight is close behind. Most of the cat fights are clips from Indian movies which begin as your good old “heroine fights vamp” and then turn into homoeroticism. One such, from an “unknown Hindi movie Manovigyan,” is a must watch. Another common trend is of Malayali housewives in their frilly “nighties” getting naughty with each other. These women, who look tentative at times and maintain serious expressions, fit in perfectly with the background music of flop movie songs, with false moans to boot.
The search will also show you clips from Indian lesbian films such as “Sancharram” winner of the Chicago Award at the 40th Chicago International Film Festival. It is a film in Malayalam, set in a village in Kerala about two young women who fall in love with each other. Also featured is Girlfriend, a mainstream Hindi movie with Isha Koppikar and Amrita Arora in the lead.
This is one of the places where you see not just your oppressed lesbians of the documentaries but another side, hilarious as it may often be. These lesbians are not on the interviews about lesbians rights on NDTV. They are also not your stereotypical urban college going girls, or butch-femme couples as we might imagine lesbians to be. They are just your average aunty next door or the middle class urban woman who sells Tupperware through the home shopping network.
In a situation where more and more visibility is being fought for and gained by lesbians, these videos remind us of the lighter side and makes us think outside of stereotypes. They subvert our existing images of popular cinema. They also show you the reality of the titillation factor of “woman-on-woman action” and of a certain imagined style of lesbian sexuality. We don’t know if the women in these clips are paid or are just doing it for fun. We don’t know if they are lesbian or bisexual. The fact remains that these images are out there and are up for grabs. They might titillate, disgust or amuse you, but they are here to stay.
Just out of curiosity, a few laughs and the occasional aesthetically appealing video, it is worth a look. At least no one can argue that “lesbianism is a western import”. The YouTube lesbians will prove them wrong!