Documentary channel

After a collection of columns by Mahinder Watsa, a documentary on the popular sex therapist

Vaishali Sinha’s under-production ‘Ask the Sexpert’ will explore attitudes towards sex through a profile of arguably one of the most popular advice dispensers around.

First sprung on the world by the city tabloid Mumbai Mirror in 2005, Mahinder Watsa is dangerously close to becoming a national treasure. The 91-year-old retired gynaecologist’s practical, blunt and often humorous advice on matters related to sex and sexuality is easily one of the tabloid’s most read sections. The questions range from sincere to scandalous, but Watsa’s attitude is best summed up by the title of a recently published collection of his columns: It’s Normal!

It was a matter of time before somebody decided to film Watsa’s stellar contributions to the neglected field of sex education. That film is being made. New York City-based documentary filmmaker Vaishali Sinha’s Ask the Sexpert, named after Watsa’s column, is “a character-driven film” that will use Watsa as a “lens into attitudes towards sex in urban India”, she said in an email interview. In the making since early 2013, Ask the Sexpert has been produced by Mridu Chandra and is in the process of raising completion funds.

Sinha, who has previously directed the surrogacy-themed documentary Made in India, was researching attitudes towards sexuality when she stumbled upon the column. “I was initially trying to find somewhat dubious-looking sex therapist clinics that I remember seeing during my college days, but I think quite a few of those places shut down,” she said. “In order to find other platforms where people divulge and talk about their honest feelings and anxieties around sexuality, I came across Watsa’s column. That’s the fun part about documentary filmmaking – discovering something new along filming or research.”

Bringing sex into the open

The documentary combines conversations with Watsa, a former member of the Family Planning Association of India, with an informal survey of attitudes towards sex among Mumbai residents. We see glimpses of Watsa responding to emails about safe sexual practices, among other things. In reply to an email about the merits of using two condoms instead of one (to create double protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases), Watsa replies with his trademark forthrightness, “Two condoms are more unsafe than one.”

Sinha observed, “Watsa’s specific brand of humor is unique and he also has a symbiotic relationship with his readers – something that I don’t think can necessarily be easily replicated.”

The filmmaker has spent several hours with the good doctor, and she said he is as courteous in person as he appears in his column. “He has allowed my pesky camera around for more than two years now – in essence, I’d say he has extended the same kind of patience towards me that he has towards his letter writers,” she said. “During my most recent production visit, he quite nonchalantly turned around and quizzed me on a question that came to him as I was filming. The question was when was it safe to have sex. The Watsa answer is simpler than you think it is.”

Among the revelations about Watsa that Ask the Sexpert will reveal: his fondness for ice-cream. “I can say that my crew and I have been fed kulfis on more than one occasion,” Sinha said.

The documentary contrasts Watsa’s advanced age, which comes as a jaw-dropper for the students she interviews in the film, and the busy life he continues to lead despite having retired for all practical purposes. “Flooded with questions via the daily newspaper, emails, the cell phone ringing and in-person consultations, it’s hard to imagine him being able to retire,” Sinha said.

Apart from Watsa, Ask the Sexpert explores the themes that are thrown up through his advice and the views of residents of Mumbai, where Watsa lives. The documentary enfolds interviews with some of the letter writers and experts in the field of sex education. “Ultimately universal themes around education, family, adolescence and aging emerge,” Sinha said.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.