Four years after ban, Savita Bhabhi gets new lease of life with a movie & a subscription-based revenue model
Subscription fees range from $25 for a monthly subscription to $93 for an annual subscription on Kirtu.com, the successor to SavitaBhabhi.com, which has comic strips based on other characters too.
Debuting five years ago in an online comic strip which detailed her sexual adventures, Savita Bhabhi attracted many a follower but Agarwal’s joy was short-lived.
In June 2009, the Indian government ordered SavitaBhabhi.com be blocked. Pranesh Prakash, policy director at Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, says the government’s move was unlawful since pre-2008 the IT Act did not grant the government powers to block websites at all, and the 2008 amendments do not allow for governmental blocking of websites on grounds of morality or indecency.
He notes that the Bombay and Madras high courts in two different cases in 2010 held it would be unconstitutional for them to require the government to proactively block websites with obscene content as demanded by the petitioners.
In India, production and distribution of porn is illegal. However, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court last month asking for watching of internet pornography to be made a nonbailable offence.
Finding a Revenue Stream
He replied to ET Magazine’s queries via email. Agarwal did not have a revenue stream then as he was focused on increasing traffic to the website.
While Agarwal does not disclose how many of the website’s 2 million visitors are subscribers, he does say the company which owns it is profitable and has seen its revenues grow at 20% annually for the past two years.
What could get Agarwal more subscribers is the new animated Savita Bhabhi Movie, probably the first of its kind in India, which premiered online on May 4.
The half-hour movie, which has had contributions from people in Asia, Europe and North America, has been in the works for a year. According to a survey by Los Angelesbased adult entertainment news and research firm XBIZ, the industry registered revenues of $5 billion in 2011, nearly half the figure in 2005.
The movie’s writers certainly did not have to think hard for an idea. The movie, set in the Bombay, not Mumbai, of 2070, has as its kernel two young men’s frustration with the government rearing its ugly head on online censorship. The “technology minister” who has pushed an amendment to the innocuously named “Net Protection Act” is clearly the bad guy who you know will pay the price for playing the Big Brother at the end of the movie.
In the midst of all this, a “virtual reality simulator” helps the two youngsters to travel to the world of Savita Bhabhi and a malfunction gets her back to their world with them. Now, they need to send her back to her world of comics but the equipment they need to fix their simulator has been seized by the government. How Savita Bhabhi pulls a fast one on the evil minister to get the equipment back and at the same time shame him, is the rest of the movie.
But of course, all these inane plot points are just ruses for Savita Bhabhi to do what she does best: have a lot of sex. In the filmmaker’s defence, talking about the plot and narrative in such a film is equivalent to discussing logic in a superhero flick. While the animation is crude enough to take you back to early-1990s cartoons, the dialogues are certainly a risque riot, mostly unintentionally.
Agarwal, who does not reveal more details about himself than what is known, says the company running the websites in based in the European Union and its servers are in the US.
“Most of our members are connected to us via different communication means such as email and external forums. So in case we are ever blocked again, we would just need to setup a new website and redirect people there,” he says. Cyberlaw expert Pavan Duggal says cyber pornography is not a priority for law enforcement agencies. “The perception there is there are bigger crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping,” he adds. If that is indeed the case, Agarwal can breathe easy.