There was a time when the Indian magazine Debonair was supposed to be a subdued version of Playboy. It had racy pictures (babes always had their scanty clothes on with lewd poses on various bits and pieces of furniture) and the articles were quite salacious.
But when I picked up the magazine opposite Koshy’s, at the magazine-wala who is considered to be one of the hallmarks of Bangalore, he had a different story to tell. The magazine had nearly been banned a few years back, he told me, and Playboy had yet not been able to make an entry into the Indian market.
He took pains to tell me that there was really no freedom of speech or expression in India. He was upset about a lot of things - the banning of The Da Vinci Code in certain states of India, the attacks against Hussein for his paintings and certain magazines becoming more and more like porn, and yet others, which would get more readership, not being allowed into the Indian markets.
I stood under the canopy of his stall and listened to his words and the pitter-patter of the torrential Bangalore rain. It all seemed too alien to me at that point. India, despite her call centers and big flashy malls, still had a long way to go.
The magazine-stand guy and I were on the same page. It isn't porn that we are in favor of but the concept of freedom of speech and expression being curbed under the guise of morality. Until the time the stuff is being viewed by adults and does not deal with pedophilia or snuff, I fail to see how it is anyone else's business.
As it is, the Bollywood suggestion of sex in the movies is far more vulgar than the act itself. The magazine stall guy continued his rant about freedom of expression not existing in India but my interest in his rant began to wane. I began to leaf through the current Debonair and nearly fainted with what I found there - advice about how to deal with one's in-laws.
All of sudden, I felt I was reading Women's Era and not a racy magazine. The article talked about loving and respecting one's in-laws as they were the husband's parents and that they had brought him into this world. It further went on to state that the hallmark of a strong marriage was mutual trust and respect and attraction in a marriage could be maintained when the foundation was built on love and respect.