Kunal Daswani is a known name in fashion and advertising photography and has been quietly shooting film posters and first looks. He started out like most of us clicking photos on his phone; when his friends noticed that he had a knack for it, they encouraged him to pursue photography. Eight years ago, he quit his banking job and took the plunge. “I learnt on the job by assisting G Venket Ram, who is my guru. When I ventured out on my own, I was shooting advertising and fashion. Director Murugadoss wanted a fashion photographer to shoot his movie poster because he wanted the poster to have a different look and that’s how Spyder happened for me. He was really happy and chose me again to shoot Sarkar’s poster,” he says.
You can hear the excitement and passion in his voice as he talks about photography. “With movies, you have a lot more freedom and the director lets you experiment. For Sarkar, I shot with coloured lights and it’s great when experiments work so well.” I was curious to know his approach to shooting our favourite movie stars and he tells me, “I consciously do not watch any films of theirs before I shoot a movie poster — that way, I’m not going into it with preconceived notions. I do not want their onscreen persona to influence my shot so I can bring a fresh perspective to the table and it has paid off.”
There are several milestones in a person’s career but when the image you shot is trending nationwide for five hours and has gone viral, it must definitely top all that. That’s what happened with Sarkar’s poster and Kunal says, “It was a real rush when that happened. I had fans writing to me saying I had made their Thalapathy look good. Social media blew up and it was pretty awesome and incredibly gratifying.” He has more film posters that will be out soon including Nayanthara’s CoCo.
Women need a happy ending too, say experts
Is female sexuality finally being portrayed in Indian cinema? It’s wonderful to see that filmmakers are no longer shying away from representing 50 per cent of the population more accurately. We have always seen male sexuality depicted across ages, the good and the bad of it. However, female sexuality has always been relegated to hidden meanings of lyrics in songs. Finally, we’re seeing it in movies like Lipstick Under my Burkha, Masaan, Veere di Wedding and Lust Stories on Netflix. It’s been long overdue and for the rural population that looks to cinema to be its guide on romance, love and sex, I feel more filmmakers should address these subjects on screen.
Dr Priya Selvaraj, a renowned and well-respected gynaecologist agrees with me on this and adds, “In terms of sexuality, it’s the same for women as it is for men. They have wants and needs too. It’s accepted that teenage boys masturbate but nobody expects it of teenage girls; maybe girls are just better at not getting caught doing it,” she laughs. After having spoken to women of different ages and backgrounds I was shocked that many of them are in long-term marriages with active sex lives but think that only men have orgasms. Dr Priya says, “That’s a common misconception. Women have orgasms too and they need it. Synchronised orgasms, however, as they portray it in English cinema, take long-term understanding as foreplay works differently for men and women. In our society, more people have theoretical knowledge than practical. It’s very repressive and a product of patriarchy to think that women don’t have the same wants and desires.” There you have it people — it is normal for a woman to masturbate and female orgasms aren’t a myth!
Ujjaini, a popular singer and actor, thinks it’s ridiculous that this is the narrative in a country that gave the world Kamasutra. “I find it puritanical and movies like this delve into untouched territories and it is a step in the right direction. Our society teaches them that women should only have sex to procreate and if you want to express your love, learnt to flutter your lashes. In a society where films have mass appeal, filmmakers should stop being scared. A few brave souls are leading the way and I’m game for a role that depicts female sexuality more accurately,” she says.
Ujjaini has also refused to act in scene where her character was ordering some men to go rape another woman on principle and I think more people should start taking a stand.
Ladies, we have to take the matter into our own hands (pun intended) and take back the orgasm.