Long before consent and its nuances were a trending topic, Agents of Ishq (AOI) released an explainer video ‘The Amorous Adventures of Shakku and Megha in the Valley of Consent’ in 2016. The music video featuring two lavni dancers, Megha and Shakku bai, who guided us through the labyrinthine concept of ‘consent’ using easily understood desi metaphors.
Consent has been the trending topic of discussion in our country for the past couple of months. This phenomenon has led to a very obvious conclusion that most Indians are unaware of what consent is. Consent is a whole body experience. It is not constant but continuous. It is never a simple yes or no. It involves a lot of variables; verbal cues, physical and emotional assent.
In 2018, AOI released another video ‘Love in the Garden of Consent’ which takes you to a utopian land, in a galaxy far, far away called Ishq Nagar or the Land of Love. Overflowing with exotic flora, this land is populated by outlandish ideas that women can desire sex, can initiate it and even enjoy it!
The video which is reminiscent of old Bollywood musicals only in its look and feel navigates serious and complex issues like domestic violence, marital rape, and the taboos associated with casual sex and sexuality. It’s protagonists find themselves in three scenarios where sex happens a) by choice; b) by force; and c) for fun. Though the tone of the video is quirky and light-hearted, it is not so at the expense of being insensitive.
Beautifully inclusive, the video features members of groups/organisations like Dancing Queens (India’s first transgender dance troupe), members of The QKnit (an online LGBTQIA+ collaborative) and Humsafar Trust (an NGO that advocates the rights and health of LGBT people in India).
Filmmaker, writer and visionary Paromita Vohra’s brainchild Agents of Ishq, with its mission of ‘giving sex a good name’ is an online collective that aims to create positive conversations about, love, sex and desire.