Though it’s a prevalent form of parody in the regional languages particularly in the South, the sex comedy in Hindi doesn’t have a very long history. Sex in our cinema is always sleazy, seldom breezy.
The first bonafide sex comedy in Hindi cinema was directed by, of all people, Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Sabse Bada Sukh in 1971 featured Bengali comic genius Robi Ghosh and Bollywood actor Vijay Arora as two small-town guys who want to experience sex, and fast.
The ahead-of-its-time comedy fell flat on its farce. Recalls Mukherjee, "It was the worst disaster of my career. When someone pointed out that it was my only film where no one died, I corrected him, ‘In Sabse Bada Sukh the distributors died.’ Seriously the sex comedy concept didn’t work."
Ten years later came Basu Chatterjee with Shaukeen, a sex comedy about three old men played by Ashok Kumar, A.K. Hangal and Utpal Dutt who are enamoured of the femme fatale Rati Agnihotri. Unlike his Bengali predecessor who came a cropper with Sabse Bada Sukh, Chatterjee’s Shaukeen was a fair box office hit.
Also successful was B.R Chopra’s Pati Patni Aur Woh, about a married man (Sanjeev Kumar) who’s seeing his sexy secretary on the sly. Though the Chopras didn’t brand it as such, this was a bonafide sex comedy.
Thereafter the sex comedy was put to bed for a long time. In 1984 Kashinath cast Shekhar Suman as a sex-starved city slicker who marries the young and innocent Padmini Kolhapure and is unable to get her interested in his erotic preoccupations. The film addressed itself for the first time to such taboo subjects as contraception and erotic fantasies. Anubhav was a miserable flop.
Two years ago Hansal Mehta made the precursor of the current sex comedy Masti. In Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai Mehta delineated the sexual escapades of three enthusiastic young guys who want nothing more than to lose their virginity.
In hindsight Mehta feels the film came a little ahead of its time. "Dil Chahta Hai with its 3-hero concept had just come. Everyone immediately linked my film to Dil Chahta Hai. That was unfair. My film was a sex comedy. My characters were obsessed with the idea of losing their virginity."
Six months ago another guy, played by Rahul Bose was equally desperate to lose his virginity in the late Anant Balani’s Mumbai Matinee. As he went from one Miss-adventure to another, the sex comedy seemed to be finally coming of age except that the film found almost no acceptance at all. Ditto Kaizad Gustad’s Boom where, for the first time, phallic and other sexually loaded jokes were rejected outright by the audience.
Indra Kumar’s Masti is the first sex comedy to win mass acceptance. The secret of its success lies in its complete lack of self-consciousness in discussing prickly sex-related issues.
That family audiences have chosen to frequent a film fraught with foamy references to unmentionable activities could signify the coming-of-age of family audiences. On the other hand the massive opening for Masti could be a mirage created by the audiences’ appetite for naughty experiences during the summer season.
For those drooling for more of the same, writer Anees Bazmi is readying his raunchy sex comedy No Entry about three guys Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan and Salman Khan with a roving eye.
Whether the family audiences take to sex comedies just because mainstream stars endorse them, is a moot point. If not the overwhelming response accorded to Masti could well be the final hurrah for sex comedies in the land of Kamasutra and sexual repression.