Darshana Mini

Rated A: Soft-Porn Cinema and Mediations of Desire in India

April 18, 12:00PM


In the 1990s, India’s mediascape saw the efflorescence of edgy, soft-porn films that emerged in the Malayalam-speaking state of Kerala. In this talk, the author examines local and transnational influences such as vernacular pulp fiction, illustrated erotic tales, and American exploitation cinema that influenced Malayalam soft-porn cinema. Through a mix of archival and ethnographic research, the talk locates how actresses and production personnel negotiated their social lives marked by their involvement with a taboo form. Mapping the soft porn industry’s utilization of gendered labor and trust-based arrangements, the author maps the genre’s circulation among blue-collar workers of the Indian diaspora in the Middle East, where pirated versions circulate alongside low-budget Bangladeshi films and Pakistani mujra dance films as “South Asian” pornography.

About the Speaker

Darshana Sreedhar Mini is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Arts, UW-Madison. She is the author of Rated A: Soft-Porn Cinema and Mediations of Desire in India forthcoming from University of California Press. She is the co-editor of “South Asian Pornographies: Vernacular Formations of the Permissible and the Obscene” published in Porn Studies in 2020.