The concept of an intimacy coordinator is fairly niche in Bollywood. After the #MeToo movement in the west, several international projects roped in an intimacy coordinator who would help choreograph scenes involving nudity or sexual content. India, too, witnessed the #MeToo movement but hiring an intimacy coordinator is still not as regular practice as in the west.
Pooja Bhatt has recently revealed that she tried to be an intimacy coordinator in her movies much before the term became popular.
Speaking with BBC, Pooja recalled that when she was directing her movie Jism, with Bipasha Basu and John Abraham in the lead, she was not only a director but the intimacy coordinator for Bipasha to ensure she was comfortable in the scene.
“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,” she said. “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,” she added.
Pooja also spoke about her experience as an actor during an intimate scene for her recently released Netflix series, Bombay Begums. While there was no intimacy coordinator on sets, she revealed that director Alankrita Shrivastava had made her feel comfortable.
“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.’
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Pooja was seen playing one of the leading ladies in the Netflix drama. The show had courted controversy after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) raised an objection citing an inappropriate portrayal of children.