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Khalid Mohamed flashes back to the shocking 'Deep Throat', which is now considered a cult classic!



Today almost 50-plus years later, 'Deep Throat' (1972) has become a cult classic. And to think once upon a time, it was a forbidden crash course in sex education.


It became the first crossover adults-only hit film from the U.S, titillating audiences which had been previously biased against the genre represented. The crossover into the mainstream was a result of the extensive media coverage, on nightly TV news and in a bunch of New York Times articles, and the fact that the film was attended by celebrities like Jackie Kennedy and Marlene Dietrich. Once the movie garnered nationwide attention in the U.S, it became a cultural phenomenon, with references both serious and comic on widely watched TV shows like Johnny Carson’s.


The movie became ‘porn chic’ in New York right away. The eminent director Mike Nichols (most famously known for the 'The Graduate' and 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?') told the equally esteemed writer Truman Capote that he shouldn’t miss it, and then the word got around that it was “the first stag film to be seen with a date.”



In India, it was taboo, of course. Somehow, it had to be accessed, though. Vicarious curiosity had spread the world over. Trilok Varma (surname changed for sake of propriety) was the wealthiest and as it happened, most resourceful teenager I hung out with. He’d suavely pay for every fellow-collegiate’s street-side tomato-cucumber-pasty-green-chutney sandwich. We were semi-cool, or almost.


Video had blitzed the world. Amidst anyone I knew within chartable radar, Trilok owned a video player, a gloriously large TV set and above all, video-tapes, somewhat fuzzy, bootlegged and all that. What the hell! Forget pristine visuals,we had to see the movies happening out there in the rest of the world, French, Italian, Superman flies, the whole shebang-a-bang. And then at long last, a DVD of 'Deep Throat' was within range.


We’d heard about the steam-flick made in six days at the cost of $ 25,000. It went on to gross $ 600 million. In terms of sheer expenditure-and-receipts, to this date it is the highest money-making movie in the world ever, exhibiting the talents of a free-spirited Linda Lovelace (1949-2002, born Linda Susan Boreman). She went on to state that her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor, had coerced her into the performance. In her autobiography, 'Ordeal', she described her reluctance behind the scenes. She later became a born-again Christian and a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement. She passed away at the age of 53 following a car crash.


The independent and underground movie showing 17 explicit scenes, in graphic detail, was banned in some 23 states of the US. The ban merely added to its allure.


Trilok, another college friend Abbas Abbas (maa kasam, no tampering with the name here) and I resolved to see what the fuss was all about. That evening of guilty pleasure returns today, well because of no earth-shaking reason.I doubt if there is anyone who hasn’t strived to see porn, during the process of growing up, now of course right there on on the Internet, a mouse-click away.



It was raining in torrents that July. Trilok ensured that parents, sisters and domestic aids were sleeping, and Lovelace was on. To put it mildly I was shocked out of my goody two shoes. Here was porn masala of the detailed variety. We had heard about it, never seen it. We giggled, how funnee, how sillee -- but we the acned boyz-waiting-to-be-men learnt all about the birds and the bees that night, an education in sex denied by our elders at a time when sex was nothing more than a stork reality.

Linda Lovelace


For the guilty Throatwallas, today, it is somewhat ironical that the film is now being accorded the status of a classic. Really? For absolute proof there’s this high-minded, documentary that places the effort way beyond the pornographic. The 90-minute documentary Inside Deep Throat on the 61-minute film has actor-narrator Dennis Hopper proclaiming, that it was about the freedom to speak out against shame and hypocrisy.”


Director Gerard Damiano and the players Lovelace and Harry Reems are made out to be “artistic revolutionaries.” As outrage had broken out, Lovelace had made statements before an inquiry commission to the effect that she was a victim of a voyeuristic charade. This documentary also serves nearly an hour-long footage of Lovelace’s failed attempts to make it as a screen goddess in Hollywood. And to cap it all, Ray Pistol (?), a Vietnam war veteran, who bought the rights to the Deep Throat franchise, stated that he believed he was doing more for the country than he ever did during his combat days in a rice paddy in Vietnam.”


Whoa! Trilok, Abbas Abbas and I during that monsoon evening didn’t know we were doing right by watching a porn peep show. We thought we were doing something wrong. Abbas Abbas is no more. I’m not encumbered by psycho guilt pangs, far from it.


Trilok has two sons whom I’m sure he wouldn’t loan the fungused video cassette to anyone (if it still survives that is). All I can do in the circumstances, is to laugh all by myself – such is growing old. You can never tell when a guilty pleasure can become a cult classic.












Khalid Mohamed is a well known film critic, screenwriter and film director.

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