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The Virgins Review: Important Short Film On The Long Hymenal Paranoia

Starring: Divyendu Sharma, Pia Bajpai, Akshay Oberoi

Written & Directed by Sandeep A Varma

Rating: ***(3 Stars)

It’s an issue about a very flimsy tissue. The hymen. Virginity seems an unstoppable obsession in  so-called civil society and its ostensible  custodian, the middle class.

Hence in The Virgins director Sandeep A. Varma’s ribtickling yet thoughtful take on the wages of virginity we have the about-to- be- married Anika(Pia Bajpai) being invited for some important gupshup at a casual eatery by her husband-to-be Sushant(Divyendu Sharma) . After saying hello and other pleasantries the groom-to-be wants to know if  Anika is…ummm… has she ever???

The girl baulks splutters on her iced  lemon drink and walks off without answering.

With good reason.

You see, Sushant is a virgin. Anika is not. Sushant wants his wife to be  a virgin. Anika wants her husband to be experienced. So he tries to act more experienced for his wedding than he actually is—a crash course on raunchy sex from a porn clip on the phone provided by helpful buddy—while she approaches her ex-boyfriend Dhruv(AkshayOberoi, striking screen presence), the same one to and with whom she lost her virginity , to help her “become” a virgin again.

It’s a hilarious comedy of errors , a modernday take on Shakespearean courtship if only Shakespeare had lived long enough to see the Indian middleclass’ obsession with the Virgin Bride.

Says writer-director Sandeep Varma, “I’ve always found the hypocrisy around the issue of virginity to be  ridiculous. People get married at a much later age now, elders expect them to remain virgins till 30.With peers is the reverse.You’ re not modern if you ve not had sex. Wanted to capture that confusion on both genders.I have been keenly watching the digital short film format. With smart phones, I feel people will consume content on the phone more and more, and will want shorter durations.”

The Virgins could easily have been full-length sex comedy (produced by ,say, Pritish Nandy). It ‘s vivacious and naughty, irreverent and very germane to a social protocol wherein sexual inexperience is still equated with ‘purity’. The performances and the interpretation of the thought processes indicating a virginal pride in an Indian bride  ,are capable and convincing.

Divyendu as the virgin-groom, Pia Bajpai as the non-virgin bride, Akhay Oberoi as her bemused sensitive but somewhat chauvinistic boyfriend, Pratik Kothari(legendary cinematographer Rajen Kothari’s son)  as the groom’sbestfriend , Vinay Mishra as the love guru who tells Anika that girls these days require experienced/skilled partners. and newcomer Preeti Sharma as the sex worker who teaches our virgin-groom a trick or two from the Kamasutra…they all make the 14-minute film crackle with gusto.

Akshay Oberoi who was last seen as Randeep Hooda’s starry-eyed protégé in the film Laal rang says he did The Virgins not just for the sake of its hymenal heft but because the format fascinated him.

Says Akshay, “ It wasn’t really about the issue of virginity. It was more about wanting to work on a short with a good director. Which Sandeep is. It just so happened that he had a topic which I think needs to be addressed more in India.”

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