[Originally published November 13, 2005. Reposted because of technical difficulties experienced by many in accessing the old post]
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the death of an old friend.
Desibaba is no more.
Desi Baba Desi Babes
Is closed till further notice.
Copyright Â© 1998 – 2005 DesiBaba.com
For those who came in late, Desibaba was the original Indian porn site. But it wasnt merely a “porn site”—it was a landmark in desi pop culture.
Let me explain.
The cable revolution of the early 90s came as a blessing from heaven (or hell) for the raging hormones of my generation who were henceforth liberated from the oppressive censorship of state-owned television. The “Chosen One” was Star Movies which served up an intoxicating feast of “After Dark” movies—“Lake Consequence”, “Wide Sargasso Sea” , “ Blindfold—Acts of Obsession” —amazing feasts of carnality whose charm never decreased with multiple viewings and where sound was not necessary for understanding the plot.
For those with a more earthy, daughter-of-the-soil preference, there was Sun TV’s late night adult programs where ladies with Sachin Tendulkar shoulders and Ramesh Krishnan waistlines heaved and thrusted away. As a result, Silk Smitha, Nylon Nalini and the other goddesses of the wet sari pantheon became part of our nightly vocabulary. Watching TV late at night with the sound off became a national obsession.
This was too good to last. In the north rose a fell presence, an evil Eye that never slept; whose sole purpose was to take us back to the Dark Ages.
In other words, I&B minister Sushma Swaraj—the hysterical lady who admonished DD newscasters for wearing transparent saris and showing cleavage, launched a war against flesh tones on the airwaves! Soon she was passing one dictat after another —-Star Movies censored all their sugar and spice, Sun TV followed suit and a dark shadow of depression and KLPD-ness swept the land.
The Net was making its presence felt then in India and the tech-savy section of the country focussed their attention into tapping the vast potential of the cyberworld. It’s well known that porn drives technology—it drove Net commerce in the early days just as it is doing for the multi-media part of the cellular phone business today. But therein lay the problem, smut was a business. Every damn site needed a credit card and we were poor undergrad students with” not a penny to our names” even though we wanted to see others “without a shirt on their back.”
Plus firang models got boring after a while and we could never associate ourself with the hot stories set in the context of the decadent West.
It’s always darkest just before dawn. And when things are at their worst, guess who should come alawn (poetic license)
It all started with a whisper campaign. Hey guys, a new website has come up whose theme is desi. Best of all, it’s free. No credit cards (supposedly used for “age verification” by respectable sites—my foot), no passwords.
The name was desibaba.com.
Suffused with the spirit of Swadeshi, we started the “Danda March” where we vowed to free ourself of the shackles of government censorship. In the process, Desibaba created a whole generation of libertarians impacting the future political landscape of India in an unforeseen way.
So what was this catalyst of social change? It was a Pakistani website (reportedly) that inspired by the vision of the new dot-com economy had a revolutionary business model—fully advertising-revenue driven , free-for-all porn site primarily built on a South-East Asian theme but with enough international pizzazz to please those among us who considered themselves citizens of the world. No dead links, no unbounded opening of pop-up windows and again most importantly no credit cards, Desibaba truly brought honor to the world of smut.
Chock full of content for every man’s taste, it was a pioneer in many respects. For example, it was the only website that would close during the month of Ramzan. But if you had an emergency and had taken the precaution of bookmarking “into” the site, you could still get access. Such thoughtfulness combined with piety and morals.
Yes of course there were some ugly critics who carped that most of the stories were badly spelt, had no grammar or thematic structure and were extremely perverted. But of course, one man’s perversion is another man’s daily routine—-most importantly Desibaba promoted a culture of non-judgementality and acceptance. The only crib I had was the repeated misspelling of the Bengali word for “brother’s wife”—-it was invariably spelt as “bodi” while it should have been “boudi”. A small blemish.
Desibaba preceded Orkut as a social networking center….so many of those badly spelt, barely coherent stories ended with lines like “Any hot aunties in and around Chennai who would like to pay for massage and …..” . I have often wondered what the success rate for these attempts at networking was. Guess I shall never find out.
Desibaba greatly impacted the Indian media—for instance they were the first to come up with the idea of “Babe of the month” —-a concept later adapted with slight modifications by certain other more mainstream publications. Desibaba also pioneered the art of digital picture manipulation —-in a bygone age where actresses used to keep themselves covered up, it was Desibaba’s view of the bold new future. I read with alarm, that the Desibaba technology is being applied to the reticent and shy Meghna Naidu to make her expose even more than what she usually does. Which just goes to show how much impact it has left on our popular culture.
There were spinoffs and copycats—Desimama mounted a challenge before it became a pay site called Chalugirl. Indian porn portals came out and soon Western porn conglomerates were eyeing the lucrative Indian market. The dot-com industry went bust and the model of advertiser-driven businesses was discredited. Desibaba was swamped with Western competition who, very slyly, started using their old stock photos of Hispanic/Latina women and passing them off as 100% desi. Young Indians, on the crest of a BPO boom, had more credit cards than ever before and were increasingly getting more comfortable using them on the Net and elsewhere.
The death knell for Desibaba had been sounded. People stopped going to websites for their porn—instead they started making them themselves armed with tools hitherto in the hands of a privileged few—camera phones and webcams.
School kids in respectable institutions were shooting their own sex videos and marketing them through auction sites. Desibaba suffered.
Consider this. Who would go to Desibaba to watch digitally morphed pictures when people like Tanusree Dutta were going topless in songs in reality (reference: Aashiq Banaya Aapne)?
Indians were being sexed up too fast and Desibaba was now a relic of a more innocent bygone era—-an anachronism, a giant who had not been able to keep pace with the times. Somewhat like Sourav Ganguly.
It spluttered on for some time before its inevitable death.
Weep not. A website may die but an idea does not. I would like to believe that Desibaba is still alive—spread out over thousands of hard drives where pictures and stories from it have been downloaded over the years .
Indeed I would like to believe something even more powerful. That there is a little bit of Desibaba in each of us—-in the memories we carry. Memories of mammaries, of innocence, of shared secrets, of careless whispers, of the thrill of discovery, the whiff of heaven, the hours of unalloyed joy and most importantly the ideal that Desibaba embodied, an ideal many of us bloggers have been inspired by :
” Real pleasure cannot be bought. It is free.”
Rest in peace.