If you thought your parents were sexually repressed when it came to having “the chat,” wait till you see how various parts of India cope with teens and the sex talk. Dr. Mahinda Watsa, an 93 year old sex advice columnist and former gynecologist, writes for the Mumbai Mirror, helping teens everywhere understand the basics of sex. While he’s a bit of a celebrity in those parts of the world, his words of wisdom aren’t always welcomed. “Ask the Sexpert” takes us into Dr. Watsa’s life as we learn about his endeavors, those that he helps, and some of the resistance he encounters.
Vaishali Sinha directs this unique film as she opens more doors for conversation involving sex. Dr. Watsa has been writing this sex advice column on a daily basis for the past 9 years. He is known far and wide in India, a bit of a celebrity in many parts, and candid interviews show people gushing over him, taking selfies, and readily identifying through giggles, the page on which his daily column appears.
We are introduced to Dr. Watsa as he sees patients (aka those needing direct answers to problems in the bedroom) and hear him read a variety of questions from the community, answering them with an honesty and wit that we might find unexpected for someone his age. Tackling topics from birth control to masterbation and homosexuality to virginity, Watsa has written and talked about it all. Touring the country, Watsa talks with those who will listen and we, the viewer, are privy to the extraordinary gratitude teens, Millenials, and older adults exhibit.
Much of this film, on the exterior, is simply hilarious as the questions asked seem ridiculous, but it’s also very sad that these old wives tales continue to perpetuate false information among the next generation. Questions such as Are two condoms better than one? and “How can I ascertain if the girl is a virgin?” as a young man is being pushed by his family to marry. His answer to the latter question is an indication of his wit, insight and understanding of the equity of the sexes…”I suggest you don’t get married. Spare any poor woman of your suspicious mind.”
Dr. Watsa’s editors and assistants are fully engaged in helping to educate the country where many areas have banned sex education. He also has adversaries who accuse him of contributing to the moral decline of India. While the film addresses Watsa’s efforts to educate teens, we also see how helpful he is in helping those in marital distress. Adults’ lack of understanding is a direct result of little information and the cycle perpetuates itself.
Watsa has seen it all and has answers to it all as well. Equality between the sexes is also at stake and Watsa has a keen understanding of the need for women’s rights and needs, even in the bedroom. His no-nonsense style as he lays it all on the line eloquently yet with candor and humor, allows others to gain a new understanding of the importance of sex and the true connection it can have in a relationship.
“Ask the Sexpert” captures Watsa and his role in India’s sexual revolution. Perhaps “revolution” is too strong of a word…informed community may suit this better. But Watsa’s age, as he is now in his 90’s, is of concern to his own children. The film also delves into Watsa’s personal relationships, regrets, and hopes allowing us to understand this remarkable and giving man, but also shows us that everyone can learn from his wisdom as he looks at life in the rear view mirror.
Even in the U.S., sex is still a conversation that most parents dread having with their kids…it’s not limited to India or Indian communities. While access to accurate information is perhaps more readily available here, Sinha’s “Ask the Sexpert” may just open doors around the world to talk more freely about sex and educating teens and young adults. His straightforward attitude and understanding of human nature is as refreshing as it is inspiring.
To see this film on Monday, Nov. 13 or Wednesday, Nov. 15 at DOC NYC, go to TICKETS AT DOC NYC