the primacy of sex
There is a furor in the Nepali press. Namrata Shrestha, well-known model and actress, has the ignoble honour of starring in a sex-tape. The man, and principal photographer, in the video is DJ Tantric, says the press. Tantrik, a married man, is not facially present but Namrata sure is, and caught in some pretty compromising positions. Sure, this happened once before, and the girl involved in the video ended up killing herself. What makes this case interesting is that Namrata doesn’t seem to care. Reading over her quotes in the papers, she seems flippant.
For a country like Nepal, sex is a no-no. None of our parents have talks with us growing up about sex. What we find out, is all that we know. But like in all repressed societies, things always find a way of leaking out. Nepali Times once did an interesting feature on the rise of Nepali porn (link). Porn, in the sense that it might not be a studio film, but rather, grainy videos of men and women caught in the throes of passion. Most of these videos have been made knowingly, by those involved with the sole intention of private viewing. Somehow these videos end up leaking to the internet, where they stagnate and collect mass viewership among the repressed boys and girls of Nepali society.
With the rise of camera phones and point-and-click digital cameras, it is no longer a difficult thing to tape yourself. In America and Europe, there has been a massive rise in amateur porn, as more and more people tap into the exhibitionist in them, record themselves and post these video to the internet. Nepali porn and sextapes aren’t new. There are numerous videos circulating on cellphones and websites. Videos of college girls, of married men and women and all those that you associate with a more liberal society where these things actually happen.
But that’s exactly what’s interesting here. The thought that these things only happen in other places. But sex happens everywhere and where there is sex, there are fetishes, taboos, and variations. People engage in all sorts of activities, which for the most part, are healthy variations on sex. Sex, after a while, can get boring, tiresome. And these are the ways in which people choose to liven up their bedroom habits. Taping oneself, especially with a married man, might be stupid but it certainly isn’t unnatural.
Also, there will always be a feminist who’ll point out how the woman on the tape is branded a slut but a man gets off scot-free. And I agree. The woman is almost always branded a randi, woman of loose morals. The man is relatively unharmed. His reputation as a stud elevates him in the eyes of other men and even society tends to look the other way. What about DJ Tantric? Did his wife leave him? What kind of flak is he under?
I, for one, am happy for Namrata. She’s a beautiful, up and coming, 20-year old. I haven’t seen Sano Sansar so I can’t testify to her acting ability, but I’m certain she must have a certain charm to her. I’m happy that she isn’t another Pamela Anderson or a Paris Hilton. She isn’t using her notoriety to her advantage and in a repressive country like Nepal, how could she? And yet, she remains defiant. She hasn’t apologised for her actions, not that she has anything to apologise for. If anyone should apologise, it must be DJ Tantric. He’s the married one, he’s the older one, and he’s the one holding and shooting the camera. Maybe she really liked/loved him, maybe she was just trying to further her career, or maybe she just needed the physical gratification, it doesn’t really matter. The real reason everyone is so worked up about it is that it exposes all the ills that Nepalis try to ignore: that these things happen, that people (esp girls) are being taken advantage of, that there are sordid affairs going on, even that oral sex is a reality. In Nepal, everything lurks under the surface. We show other signs of moral depravity. We burn vehicles, kill innocents, hurt others. And all this is tolerated, acceptable even. We don’t judge them harshly and even when we do, it is cursory, even transient. But Namrata, this poor girl, might be shamed, ostracized.
People have sex. We have sex. And those of us who haven’t, will one day. Get over it, Namrata seems to be saying. And I applaud her for it. I support her, whatever her stance may be. To be able to even take such a stance, as a young woman, in Nepali society is a leap in the progressive direction. I know, progressive doesn’t mean the degeneracy of morals. But that is a different debate altogether. That will be a debate on what exactly is moral (whether affairs are really as immoral as they seem). There is a lot going on here. The issue is not just of a sex video, but of many things: morality, degeneracy, the reality of sex, gender equity, and Nepal as a nation.