Disclaimer: Originally published in September 2018. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
There is an inherent tendency to get drawn to anything that is even remotely controversial or has the capability to carry out social upheaval. Both sex and crime fall into this category.
Sex and crime independently and also to an extent together, have been debated and discussed. Many TV shows and movies (Crime Patrol or Gumraah) often revolve around the themes of lust, love, betrayal, murder, adultery, etc.
However, the genre of sex-crime has found a place for itself in adult entertainment magazines. It might seem odd, that in a day and age where pornography is available to people with the click of a button, how are these magazines sustaining themselves?
Here’s tracing the popularity of these magazines across India:
WHAT ARE ‘SEX-CRIME’ MAGAZINES?
The brainchild of 60-year old Shailabh Rawat, Madhur Kathayen and Mangahar Kahaniyan are the ‘true-crime’ magazines of India. The magazines are written in Hindi, however, today have an equally popular English counterpart: Crime & Detective.
These magazines are popular all across India. While Madhur Kathayen sells around one lakh copies a month, Crime & Detective sells around 40-50k, catering predominantly to the North East.
The magazines display a blend of real-life and fictionalised stories surrounding love, lust, cheating, murder, etc with women characters who are more or less sexualised, often with cleavage shots, thunder thighs, and voluptuous figures dotting the scene.
With headlines like “Sex padosne ka naya style”, “Ek thi sheela, hawas ki leela” and “Pushpa ki pyaas maange suhaag ki bali” these magazines explicitly indulge in a style of story writing that has grave sexual overtones.
The magazines deal with issues like Godmen tricking girls into sexual favours, murders committed in a jealous rage, women being punished for committing adultery, dissatisfaction in marriage, etc.
The stories often have ‘moral endings’ wherein women and men are told to not give in to easy pleasure so that they don’t stray asunder.
“Over the past 10 years, we have covered every trend related to sex and sexuality. We have had special transgender issues, gay and lesbian editions, gigolos, wife swapping and many more issues” says Rawat.
THE PHOTO STORY
The photo story is perhaps the most interesting part of the magazines. It is carried out on an extremely low budget and requires Rawat himself to become the coordinator, director, essentially the mastermind behind it.
A dimly lit room in Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar transforms into a private studio where Rawat employs struggling actors, models and actresses to play these roles. He assists everything from lighting, makeup, photography to the actual scriptwriting.
With creatively made fake background settings, multicoloured curtains, synthetic bed sheets, and other paraphernalia, the models are told what to say and how to pose. They need to have lustful expressions and are often made to pose explicitly while remaining coy.
These photo stories are in comic form and are essentially stories of temptation and desire. Women in skimpy clothes and heavy makeup, constant display of cleavage, pallus sliding down and enticing expressions, all contribute to the drama that is the photo story.
While these magazines are popular all across the country, they have a distinct clientele. For traditional readers of adult magazines, these are a gold mine.
Men in their late 40s and 50s, in small towns and villages where there is often not a constant supply of electricity, these magazines are an essential source of entertainment.
For the middle classes, they provide a glimpse into the sexual adventures of the so-called ‘upper classes’. “Our readers are very curious about the upper class and its paap: What are lesbians? Why do they do what they do?” says Rawat.
It’s really interesting to see how such a genre of entertainment has managed to persist despite changes in technology and awareness. While women and men are often sexualised and objectified in these stories, they do reflect the nuanced immoralities that persist in society.
Image Source: Google Images