Erotica has often been perceived as pornography on paper. But the landscape is changing and has paved way for an influx of erotic novels in the Indian book market.
"Taking a deep breath, Meera positioned herself carefully against the cushion, pushing harder against it."
Thanks to the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica has been read and discussed more openly in India. We no longer to feel the need to enjoy it within the premise of our bedrooms.
Despite a seemingly more accepting atmosphere, sex remains a forbidden fruit in India.
India, the birthplace of the ultimate sex manual Kama Sutra, is not short of good erotica authors.
Many have been publishing bold stories long before Christian Grey brought out his whips and blindfolds.
DESIblitz introduces you to the boundary-breaking voices of Indian erotica.
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
With Sita’s Curse: The Language of Desire, many believe Sreemoyee has given India its answer to Fifty Shades of Grey.
But the former journalist thinks she merely uses sex to tell a story and that her best-selling novel ‘is most certainly not meant to titillate’.
Sreemoyee believes in female empowerment through an honest expression of sexuality.
She does not shy away from using explicit language and graphic descriptions.
“Taking a deep breath, Meera positioned herself carefully against the cushion, pushing harder against it… faster, faster… feeling her insides give way like boats washed away at high tide.”
Ever wonder about erotica written by a man? ‘Sleazy’ may be the first word that comes to mind, but Ananth is here to prove you wrong.
Known as the first Indian male erotica author, he tells a story about photographer Sid’s love affairs in Play With Me.
Sex is no doubt an important element. However, the senior vice president of Penguin Books India knows a thing or two about pleasing his audience:
“Because it’s a man writing the story, my women had to be strong, independent. The relationships had to be real and respectful. The sex had to be enjoyable.”
And he pushes the bar daringly. By weaving seduction, bisexuality and threesomes into his narrative, Ananth invites his readers to celebrate ‘the pursuit of pleasure’.
A film critic and newspaper columnist, Sangeeta is no stranger to extreme public reaction to her work.
She stormed into the scene with Sankhini. It was published as a series in Desh, a Bengali literary magazine.
While some credited the Kolkata-based writer for reviving hardcore sexuality in Bengali literature, many also criticised her liberal approach.
Sangeeta recalled: “When I wrote [Sankhini], it really created a stir. While many people praised me, I also received a lot of criticism.
“I had talked openly about orgasms – one of my woman characters says, ‘I can feel it’ – and people told me, ‘How can you be so open? There are some things that you can’t be so open about’.
“But I don’t think you have much control over what you write. It flows.”
When Madhuri is not giving relationship advice in Maxim, she is writing screenplays for Bollywood.
Between spending time with her daughter and running her media production house, Madhuri still finds continuous success on the book charts.
Her next book, My Clingy Girlfriend, will hit the shelves in March 2015.
But her luscious creativity does not stop there, with Scandalous Housewives Delhi also lined up for mid-2015 release.
Madhuri opened up to DESIblitz about her inspiration for Scandalous Housewives.
She said: “I sat with a few of my friends, who are lovable housewives… One day… a woman turned to me and said, ‘You know she’s having an affair? I saw her in a car with a strange man parked outside the building very late at night!'”
Coupled with her passion for cinema, it is no surprise Madhuri’s vibrant characters and steamy sex scenes have attracted a strong fan base!
If novels are not your cup of tea, try reading Aranyani’s short stories.
Though the anonymous writer’s gender is not clear, the style of writing has been widely considered as feminine.
“That day, the fruit became the palette of her playtime art project…She spread the sweet sticky seeds on her vulva and thighs. Her hands glissaded between the lips of her vulva bringing the scent of the fruit there.”
Described as ‘bold, sensuous and unabashedly erotic’, Aranyani’s stories will take you on a stimulating journey of love and sex.
With more authors tapping into the genre, the debate for erotica to be recognised as a legitimate literary category is as hot as ever.
On the one hand, the Hindu argues: “Its very focus on a single sphere of human experience…negates its quest to be counted as part of general literature.”
Sreemoyee disagreed, saying: “My book is for women to feel motivated to open up and have a dialogue about their sexual desires, and feel sexually empowered.
“In our country, only men are allowed to feel sexually empowered, and women are just a tool to satisfy them, whereas sex is a biological process, and both feel the same.”
Besides, when it comes to sex, pleasure trumps everything.
Ananth echoed: “If you can read misery memoirs…it’s ironic that people say they don’t want to read books that are pleasurable and enjoyable and are about one of the basic needs. There should be nothing wrong. As long as it’s good writing.”
Whatever the critics think, it is clear that India is opening up to erotic fiction, and is keen for more.
Raj Nayak is the CEO of Colors TV and Rishtey Cineplex at Viacom18 Media. In an exclusive Gupshup with DESIblitz, Raj talks Bigg Boss, 24 and more!