“What is masturbation?” is an innocuous question, but when the inquisitive mind asking for an answer is a seven-year old boy, it turns into what is being touted as India’s first sex education fictional web series, Sex Chat with Pappu and Papa.
The five-part series from Yash Raj Films, directed by the studio’s business and creative head Ashish Patil, takes on the tough task of discussing the birds and the bees without stirring up a hornet’s nest. In the first webisode, Anand Watsa (Ankit Tiwari) explains to his son Pappu (Kabir Sajid) the benefits of masturbation through a game of cricket. Pappu’s grandfather Vishwanath Watsa (Sachin Pilgaonkar) looms over the frank conversation like a curmudgeon upholding the rules of engagement.
The webisode, written by Gopal Datt and Devang Kakkad, delivers the message in a non-preachy and comic style. Patil leavens the prickly situation with humour to bridge the inter-generational gap between adults and children. Vishwanath Watsa considers it indecent to even broach the topic with a child, while his son Anand finds himself in a spot to set it right with Pappu.
The American five-part web series Sex Ed: The Series, made in 2009, had a similar theme, but with a difference. The storyline in Sex Ed revolves around eight reluctant college students who are prodded by their professor to open up about their sex lives in a sex education class.
The Watsa surname cannot be a coincidence, given that one of India’s most famous sexologists is Mahinder Watsa, who has debunked several myths surrounding sex in a non-nonsense and humorous manner through his writings and his newspaper column in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid. The makers of the web series are well-intentioned in borrowing Watsa’s surname to sneak in familiarity with the themes covered by the series.
Sex talk is taboo in most households, and parents squirm at the thought of telling their children how they came into existence. Research has consistently shown that parents can contribute to the safety of their children’s sexual behaviour by talking about sex, rather than avoiding the subject.
Sex Chat with Pappu and Papa achieves its goal without graphic details. The next four webisodes will discuss menstruation, safe sex, pregnancy and homosexuality. Young viewers hooked to online entertainment are likely to find the web series to be a good conversation starter with their parents, who need the education more than them.