Pooja Bhatt Says She Turned Intimacy Coordinator For Jism, Told Bipasha Basu To Decide How Far She Wanted To Go
In a post #MeToo world, intimacy coordinator is a legit profession. And one that is slowly, steadily and finally gaining importance in the entertainment industry, which is infamous for being one of the chief prowling grounds of sexual predators. But it is a testament to just how uneducated and ignorant the industries world over still are, that the presence of an intimacy coordinator on set is still considered a niche and rare thing. Naturally, the Indian entertainment industry is going to take a while to catch up. But recently, actor and filmmaker Pooja Bhatt revealed how she handled the intimacy scenes between Bipasha Basu and John Abraham during Jism.
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The 2003 film, directed by Amit Saxena was produced by Pooja Bhatt, and was unusually erotic for its time. There wasn’t nudity as such in the film, but there were intimate scenes between Bipasha and John. It was also their first film together. Naturally, the awkwardness or discomfort that could result from this would not make for convincing cinema.
Pooja Bhatt spoke to BBC about turning intimacy director for Jism and how she limited the crew present on set to ensure the actors wouldn’t get uncomfortable, and she also let Bipasha Basu direct what she was and was not comfortable with.
“For intimate scenes, I handpick the crew who won’t make an actress feel uncomfortable on the set because it’s important to have the gaze right. In 2002, when I was making Jism, an erotic thriller, I told Bipasha Basu that as a woman and as an actor I won’t be asking you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.The film had no nudity, but there was un-held-back sexuality, she had to seduce John Abraham. I told her it has to be convincing, you can’t be awkward or hesitant, but you decide how far you want to go.”
Also Read: As The Bhatt Clan Comes Under The Nepotism Scanner, Pooja Bhatt Argues That They’ve Launched More Outsiders Than Anyone In The Industry
As is the case with Jism, usually, intimacy choreography and coordination in Indian cinema has been done by the directors and producers. Post #MeToo, things were changing but the changes were mostly seen in the West. Especially, with the rising popularity and varied content on OTT, Netflix shows like Sex Education and Bridgerton have been known to stipulate for intimacy coordinators on set. However, that’s not the case for their Indian counterparts. Or even if it is, it’s not yet become something worth talking about.
Also Read: Kate Winslet And Salma Hayek’s Interviews Prove That Intimacy Coordinators Are A Dire Need On Set
Recently, Bhatt herself starred in Bombay Begums, a Netflix series, and her character, Rani Irani, also had some intimate scenes with her husband (played by Danish Hussein) and her lover (played by Rahul Bose). While there was no intimacy coordinator on the set, director Alankrita Shrivastava ensured that Pooja Bhatt was comfortable and had a say in how the scenes would be choreographed and shot.
“Alankrita and I discussed in great detail how we were going to do the intimate scenes. We trusted each other, we trusted the director and the co-stars. I didn’t go home feeling icky or soiled,” she recalled. Noting that a few networks are insisting on an intimacy coordinator, she believes it is a ‘tectonic shift from the earlier times’.”
This tectonic shift that Bhatt talks about has been a long time coming. More and more women, including actors like Kate Winslet and Salma Hayek, are speaking up about how they wish they had intimacy coordinators on set back when they were new in showbiz. Not just because they had extremely bad experiences but because having someone as a liaison or a middle-man to convey their discomfort with a particular scene or camera angle to the director would’ve been nice.
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