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Sex and Head On

Recently, while I was reading through one of my college textbooks I was quite surprised that a sub-topic actually discussed sex. A wandering mind that mine is, it promptly went on a retrospective journey. Finally at the end of the long journey it was clear that in the last decade(i.e. my teenage years), apart from cinema and cricket, sex(most naturally) is a subject that has intrigued me the most. I remember my early teenage years when we used to blush and feel shy even on the mention of the word. But fortunately my school conducted a “Sexuality” education program which cleared most of our doubts about the topic and also kind of protected us from being taught wrong things.

Over the years my ‘awareness and knowledge’ about sex has increased leaps and bounds mainly thanks to the internet and some very helpful friends. Also, in my early college years I developed a strong interest in cinema (again thanks to the internet). I slowly discovered cinemas of different countries. And I can say with certainty that exposure to world cinema has definitely given me a sense of maturity over ‘sex’ as a subject.

In the last few years I have been catching French movies(La Petite Jerusalem, 7 Ans etc.) which are shown at ‘Alliance Francaise De Bombay‘ at Churchgate, Mumbai. French cinema, especially the present one, is a little obsessed with sex. Though in the beginning I didn’t watch the movies for the sex in it, but later on I was amazed at how comfortable the French are with sex. Almost every single movie I had seen at the wonderful place inevitably turned towards it. The sex wasn’t just for sex’s sake. It was an integral part of the narrative. A somewhat welcome change from Indian Cinema and society as a whole which is ultra-shy with respect to the subject. Ironically, the most comprehensive sex manual is the work of an Indian, which i guess is only one of the many paradoxes that reign supreme in my motherland.

Caterpillar(Kyatapirâ)I have also been attending the MAMI organised Mumbai Film Festival for the last years. Got an opportunity to watch some truly awesome movies there. Here again just the amount of nudity in the movies shocked me. But save for Caterpillar(Kyatapirâ) sex wasn’t that much of an integral part of the story at least in the movies I could watch. Caterpillar is a hard-hitting film in the backdrop of the Sino-Japanese war in 1942. It tells us how even though wives of soldiers who did not actually fight in the war were as real a victim of its atrocities as the men on the battlefield. Though the move at times does get repetitive, it is worth a watch even if only for the stunning performance of the lead actress Shinoju Terajima. It also one of those rare tales from a country which point out its own wrong-doings in a war.

Now, amongst the films I have seen the one that has tackled sex most interestingly is Fatih Akin’s Head On. The movie literally takes other romantic dramas head-on. Essentially an out and out romantic tale, writer-director Fatih Akin chooses an untreaded path to tell one. There’s no sweet character in here which might make the girls swoon. The lead characters are as grey or as ordinary as one can find. They don’t wear designer clothes and neither of them scores in the looks department. Head-On is brutal, hard and rough. But, incredibly, at the same time it is a tender love story.

{Spoilers Ahead}
Head-On can be loosely divided into 3 chapters. The first one where the lead characters Sibel and Cahit are just getting to know each other. The second one where slowly and unknowingly they start to feel for each other. And the third part when Cahit goes to meet Sibel in Turkey. Fatih Akin masterfully intercuts each part with beautiful performances by a traditional Turkish band playing at the banks of a river in Istanbul.The songs that the band performs also denote the mood of the upcoming chapter.

Sex Scene in Head onNow, in the first chapter where the lead characters are shown as careless and heartless creatures the sex also is careless. The nudity is almost obscene and vulgar. Some people get shocked and offended by the nudity on display and reject Head-On as crass. But such a judgment in my opinion should not be made as the director is only trying to equate the sex with the mood of the film and does not have any pervert intentions.

Further in the movie Sibel and Cahit unsuspectingly start falling in love with each other. The lighting, dialogues and music all become more sensuous. And so does the sex. This I believe is the most explored perspective of sex in cinema over the years. But still Fatih Akin manages to carve out a scenes which looks fresh. Any pervert intentions that one feels that the director has gets squashed after watching that aesthetically directed scene.

In the final part of the film when Sibel and Cahit reunite the mood is a bit gloomy and melancholy. And amazingly the nude scenes are too. I was totally blown away by those scenes. They impressed me to no end. Unbelievably they were neither erotic nor vulgar in display. The relief that one feels by meeting a loved one after a long time was very much evident in them. The scenes were also also filled by a tinge of sadness. That one can portray such emotions through nudity and sex is astounding.

Also, it would be a crime to judge Head-On only by the sex in it. It is an extremely well made movie in all departments. The camerawork is fabulous. Just the way Istanbul looks in the movie has made it my most desirable destination. The performances by the lead characters are stunning. They adapt to the various moods in the movie with ease. Indian cinema can learn a lot from the use of songs in the movie. Traditional in every sense they are diametrically opposite to the premise of the film but yet very appropriate.

All of this in my view undoubtedly makes Head-On a modern masterpiece.


By: Rasik
Posted: May 29, 2013, 7:24 pm


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