HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Library Journal | RECOMMENDED ★★★ - Video Librarian | RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online
Sexuality Studies • Asian Studies • South Asian Studies • Public Health • Anthropology • Psychology
Date of Completion: 2017 | Run Time: 59 & 83 minutes | Language: English with English subtitles | Captions: No | Includes: Transcript | Director: Vaishali Sinha | Producers: Vaishali Sinha & Mridu Chandra
ASK THE SEXPERT is a feature-length documentary about Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a highly popular 93-year-old sex advice columnist for a daily newspaper in Mumbai. Despite sex being a taboo topic in India, the column’s brand of non-moralistic advice and humor has emboldened many to write in with their questions. The columnist gains popularity even while a ban on comprehensive sex education in schools is adopted by approximately a third of India’s states.
ASK THE SEXPERT provides a first-ever look at the man behind the public persona and cult phenomenon of Dr. Mahinder Watsa – a feminist man in a deeply patriarchal society and a modern India that wants to talk about sex. Ultimately, ASK THE SEXPERT is a universal story about the need for a safe space to talk about the body and about desire.
Library Journal | J. Osicki, Saint John Free Public Library
"This is an edifying, unembellished look at a humble man who has devoted his life to helping people navigate the pleasurable yet oft-bewildering world of human sexuality. Highly recommended for all viewers."
Video Librarian ★★★
Reviewed by C, P. (K. Fennessy)
"With a mixture of wit and respect, director Vaishali Sinha profiles Dr. Mahinder Watsa, 'India’s foremost sexologist,'... An engaging portrait, this is recommended."
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University
"This entertaining overview of a serious and universal topic is recommended for general audiences and human development courses."
Huffington Post | Morena Duwe, Music & Culture
"An intimate look at the way Indians talk about sex."
The Globe and Mail | Zosia Bielski, Senior Writer
"The film deftly moves between Watsa, his conservative detractors and gorgeous footage of young lovers on the streets of Mumbai … In a country where sex ed is banned in a third of states, a country that tallied nearly 35,000 rape cases in 2015, Watsa is a radical and necessary voice of reason."
Screen Daily | Fionnuala Halligan, Chief Film Critic
"Sinha presents this unique personality against a backdrop of a glowing Mumbai, where he is stopped on the street by young fans and take selfies as he launches his book, ‘It’s Normal’. Stooped and kindly, he’s India’s favourite straight-talking uncle, only one who advertises Viagra as a sideline. He’s certainly a find."
"I find it utterly impossible not to be charmed by Dr. Watsa and, by extension, by this documentary by Vaishali Sinha … Dr. Watsa writes plainly, even conversationally, to his readers with honesty, openness, and precision – three things otherwise completely missing from the field … This is a fascinating documentary. Sinha has found a brilliant subject and has the good sense to stick with him. I’m positive that he will endear audiences near and far."
Jury Award for Best Documentary | DC South Asian Film Festival
Best of Fest | IDFA
Best Documentary Feature | South Asian Film Festival of Montréal
Best Documentary Feature | Jagran Film Festival
Best Feature Documentary Jury Award | New Orleans Film Festival
Best Documentary | Power Brands Bollywood Film Journalist Awards
World Premiere | Hot Docs International Film Festival
Asian Premiere | MAMI, Mumbai
Special Jury Mention | Film Southasia
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH VAISHALI SINHA
Director of ASK THE SEXPERT
Vaishali Sinha is a NY based award-winning filmmaker originally from India who has created films for over 10 years and speaks regularly about gender, sexuality and human rights in contemporary Indian culture. Prior to filmmaking she started her career working with women’s rights groups in India. Her films, set against social issue backdrops, are a deep dive into universal, fundamental questions using character driven stories that move and inspire audiences. Vaishali’s first feature documentary was the award-winning MADE IN INDIA about the personal stories behind the phenomenon of outsourcing surrogate mothers to India (co directed/produced with Rebecca Haimowitz). ASK THE SEXPERT is her second feature documentary film about Dr. Mahinder Watsa’s iconic and humorous column Ask the Sexpert in the Mumbai Mirror. Dr. Watsa is the most well-known sex advice columnist and sexologist in the country whose career spans 70 years. He has been featured in interviews by NY Times, Al Jazeera, BBC and called a national treasure by Scroll India. ASK THE SEXPERT is a universal story about desire and the human need for communication. Vaishali’s films have been featured in prominent festivals, theaters, museums, conferences and universities across the globe and she has spoken at several of these events. Her films have been on PBS, Netflix and international television stations. Vaishali has received funding from ITVS, MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Catapult Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Firelight Media, Playboy Foundation, The Fledgling Fund, Center for Asian American Media, Nextpix, Mozilla and more. Vaishali studied filmmaking at the New School University and is an alum of a human rights and sexuality institute held by the internationally acclaimed organization Creating Resources for Empowerment and Action.