Trapped into legal contracts, their sex videos passed off as web series on subscription apps!
The case involving businessman Raj Kundra appears to be the tip of the iceberg as an India Today investigation found how smut producers work behind-the-scenes, circumventing legal restrictions on pornography in a country believed to be the third-largest consumer of adult content after the United States and Britain.
The probe spread across several cities revealed India’s underground porn industry operates on a low-investment-quick-profit model, with tech-savvy filmmakers involved in the shady business of binding female models in exploitative agreements.
Packaged with a storyline, the explicit material is posted on paid-for applications, their short clips promoted on social-media platforms, the India Today investigation found.
THE CONTRACT TRAP
When probed, Avinash Tripathi, a Mumbai-based casting director, confessed to India Today’s undercover reporter that his job involves luring young woman actors into pornography.
“We tell them (female actors) that there will be (body) exposure, without clothes. The skin will be shown,” he told the journalist posing as a film financier. “Messaging will go wrong if am direct. Stating porn will be wrong (counter-productive). It’s the same thing, but told differently. It’s like using the word wine for liquor.”
For him, pornography is a norm rather than the exception in the entertainment sector.
“You are a culprit only when you are caught, else not. Who isn’t doing it? It might be wrong for people outside the industry, but it’s normal within. Show their upper body, lower body, the back. Show whatever you want – from kissing to bed scenes. Just pay them up.”
Tripathi solicited between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000 per female actor for a day’s shoot of porn.
“What if any of those women tells you not to upload the video after filming and investments are done?” the reporter asked.
“That can’t happen. We’ll mention adult content in our agreement with them. Nothing of that sort can happen. When you mention adult content, the matter ends there. Nothing can be challenged,” Tripathi explained.
He offered to cast up to two dozen female actors for hardcore porn. “I’ll need 3-4 days to get 20-25 women.”
MODELS UNDER GUARD
Based in Noida, Shalini, admitted the contracts she drafts for the models leave them with no legal recourse should they want to back out or want their films be taken down from the internet.
“Just some time back, a model featuring on an app told us to delete it (her video) because she was getting married. She was told to return the money (which went into making the film),” the casting director said. “She offered to pay Rs 2,000 back every month in installments. The film cost Rs 50 lakh. She would have taken generations to return that amount. I told her that we had her (consent) in writing. So the video remained uploaded.”
Shalini disclosed that models are also asked to give consent on video and that no copy of agreements is shared with them.
“Keep that agreement with yourself. Don’t give a copy to them. They are told that the agreement stays with you,” Shalini revealed. “What’s also done in this situation is that a video or audio recording is done where you talk about the agreement. You say on camera that a copy is given to her. She’ll be under pressure. She won’t deny. She gives a one-minute statement that she has signed off on the agreement and that nothing is forced.”
Shalini also confessed that she would be present on location to ensure no model pulls out of the shoot. “If I am paid, it’s my responsibility to be on the location. My job involves handling them during the shoot if they refuse to cooperate.”
The director then showed sex videos she hired the models for.
“It’s no different from porn,” the reporter remarked as he saw the clips.
“It’s porn. Cut (edited) and uncut (unedited),” Shalini replied. “It’s full body shown.”
The director works on commissions.
“I work on percentage (commission per model). We fix it. If it’s for 300 women (the producer wants), we work it out accordingly.”
THE LAW ON PORN
Watching porn isn’t illegal in India, but a plethora of laws regulate creation, publication, and distribution of content deemed obscene.
According to Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), for instance, content is deemed obscene if it is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest”. And Section 293 bars distribution or sale of such content to anyone below 20 years of age.
Separately, Section 67 of the Information Technology Act says whoever “publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished”.
And the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 prohibits publication or exhibition of any material which contains indecent representation of women in any form.
The 2021 Digital Media Intermediaries Rules call for the online media intermediaries to ensure that “user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information,” that is “defamatory, obscene, pornographic, pedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy” or is “harmful to child”.
The central government regularly issues orders to social media and online platforms to remove any pornographic or obscene content under the IT Act.
RADIO SILENCE ON NAKED EXPLOITATION?
Still exploitation in the country’s thriving porn industry appears to have remained largely under the radar.
At a coffee joint in Delhi, Debashish Roy paraded female models before India Today’s investigative reporter.
This casting director offered brazen obscenity on and off the screen.
“Had this been (a closed) office (space and not a coffee shop), I would have told them to strip,” Roy claimed. “I would have them open up (strip) in office space.”
He confessed to have cast up to 15 models for a single porn film in one go.
“For how much?” the reporter asked.
“It will be Rs 15,000 for (a) topless (shoot) and Rs 20,000 for fully clear (nude),” Roy replied.
MAKERS STAY OUT OF SIGHT
A Mumbai-based film director, Rafat Abbas Ali, explained pornography generates fast profits from low investments as he showed sex clips he produced.
“This is how we’ll make the new short film. It will also have a storyline. There will be everything. I will create the content till post production. The budget will be around Rs 2.70 lakh… for output content of 16-20 minutes. This is what I have shot before,” he said.
Ali now explained the terms — his or his team’s identity won’t be disclosed anywhere in the videos. And the location for the sex shoot, he said, will be a tourist destination.
“We’ll sign an agreement that no one from my team will be identified anywhere, whether or not artistes disclose their real identities (in the videos).We will provide artistes with viewership across millions. We’ll go to Goa, Nainital or any other hill station (for the shoot).
NO BANKING TRAILS
Ashok Yadav, another director in Mumbai, admitted that the sex videos he supplies are tailor-made on demand and that the business leaves no banking trail behind.
“That’s how we strike the deal. We explain the story and the requirements to the artiste. We tell her that we’ll have a replacement on board if she doesn’t agree,” he said. “I have produced at least 50 series for an app. Whatever you (the client) says has to be done. But I don’t take cheque payment in the first place. If’s it’s a four-day schedule, I’ll get cash in the (first) evening.”