Bollywood has finally found its first certified intimacy coordinator in Aastha Khanna. During her former stints as an Assistant Director, Aastha recognised a gap in the Indian film industry and envisioned a change.
As a passionate advocate of the #MeToo movement, she acknowledges the existence of traumas and triggers and the devastating impact that obscure boundaries can have on an actor. Having completed her training and certification from Manhattan’s Intimacy Professionals Association, she is now set to transform Bollywood into a safer, more comfortable, and equitable space.
Who is an intimacy coordinator and what do they do?
To put it simply, an intimacy coordinator monitors the choreography, direction, and execution of intimate sequences on set. They bring the director’s creative vision to life, whilst keeping in mind the consent and boundaries of the actors involved. And yes, this means that most of the steamy sequences that you see on-screen have been choreographed and rehearsed.
While it may seem like shooting such scenes can lead to uncomfortable moments of arousal, intimacy coordinators ensure that that doesn’t happen. Many times, they use a bunch of props and tools to maintain appropriate distances and barriers. In a recent interview with Scoopwhoop, Aastha Khanna elaborated on the same.
“I have a lot of barriers related stuff, including athletic guards. There is a foam seat cover (shaped like a cycle cover), half-deflated 9-inch pilates ball, which work as barriers to create distance between people and make sure that their genitals do not touch. We want to try and avoid friction between genitals to avoid arousal non-concordance.”
Do we really need intimacy coordinators in Bollywood?
Open conversations about sex and intimacy are extremely rare and hushed in our country. As a result, innumerable cases of sexual violence and harassment end up going unnoticed. In other instances, more often than not, perpetrators walk free. This is especially the case for our film industry. Most A-listers who were called out during the #MeToo movement are back at work with minimal disruptions to their reputation and career.
As mainstream Bollywood gradually becomes more explorative and accepting of intimate sequences on-screen, its history of casting couches and sexual misconduct revelations cannot be ignored. And thus, the hiring of its first intimacy coordinator is inarguably a step in the right direction.
In addition to being Bollywood’s first intimacy coordinator, Aastha Khanna is also the founder of the Intimacy Collective in India. This collective brings together like-minded professionals who are currently drafting a set of guidelines for the industry.
Needless to say, selfless and inspiring pioneers like Aastha give us hope for a better tomorrow.
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