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.

Support our journalism by paying for Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Why should inclusion matter to companies?

It's not just about goodwill - inclusivity is a good business decision.

To reach a 50-50 workplace scenario, policies on diversity need to be paired with a culture of inclusiveness. While diversity brings equal representation in meetings, board rooms, promotions and recruitment, inclusivity helps give voice to the people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. Inclusion at workplace can be seen in an environment that values diverse opinions, encourages collaboration and invites people to share their ideas and perspectives. As Verna Myers, a renowned diversity advocate, puts it “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Creating a sense of belonging for everyone is essential for a company’s success. Let’s look at some of the real benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:

Better decision making

A whitepaper by Cloverpop, a decision making tool, established a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance. The research discovered that teams that followed an inclusive decision-making process made decisions 2X faster with half the meetings and delivered 60% better results. As per Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, this report highlights how diversity and inclusion are practical tools to improve decision making in companies. According to her, changing the composition of decision making teams to include different perspectives can help individuals overcome biases that affect their decisions.

Higher job satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is connected to a workplace environment that values individual ideas and creates a sense of belonging for everyone. A research by Accenture identified 40 factors that influence advancement in the workplace. An empowering work environment where employees have the freedom to be creative, innovative and themselves at work, was identified as a key driver in improving employee advancement to senior levels.


A research by stated the in India, 62% of innovation is driven by employee perceptions of inclusion. The study included responses from 1,500 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States and showed that employees who feel included are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, suggest new and innovative ways of getting work done.

Competitive Advantage

Shirley Engelmeier, author of ‘Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage’, in her interview with Forbes, talks about the new global business normal. She points out that the rapidly changing customer base with different tastes and preferences need to feel represented by brands. An inclusive environment will future-proof the organisation to cater to the new global consumer language and give it a competitive edge.

An inclusive workplace ensures that no individual is disregarded because of their gender, race, disability, age or other social and cultural factors. Accenture has been a leading voice in advocating equal workplace. Having won several accolades including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate equality index, Accenture has demonstrated inclusive and diverse practices not only within its organisation but also in business relationships through their Supplier Inclusion and Diversity program.

In a video titled ‘She rises’, Accenture captures the importance of implementing diverse policies and creating an inclusive workplace culture.


To know more about inclusion and diversity, see here.

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