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Interview: ‘Desire is Never Straightforward. In Fact, there is Nothing Straight about Desire at All’

Picture of author Madhavi Menon. She is wearing a yellow saree.
An interview with Madhavi Menon, the writer of ‘Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India’, which traces the courses of desire running through India’s past

Madhavi Menon’s Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India is a catalogue of temples, dargahs, and texts that show an India whose desires are various and boundless. She writes, “All around me in the Delhi of the 1970s and ’80s were Hindi films that celebrated same-sex attachments (Anand), older women desiring younger men (Doosra Aadmi), and cross-couple desire (Angoor)…In the West, these multiple desires are greeted as new-fangled ideas, and in India now they are increasingly treated as foreign conspiracies.” Infinite Variety shows through meticulous research how an open, complex relationship with desire existed in India long before today’s conservatism and neatly defined identities did. After almost two decades of study and work in the US, Menon returned to write the book that showed “the complexity of this landscape of desire.” She spoke to about Indian men holding hands in public, the limitations of labels around sexuality, why Indian versions of Romeo and Juliet don’t enjoy the same popularity, and how desire cannot be straitjacketed…

Read the full interview where it was originally published in the Scroll.

This article was originally published in the Scroll.

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