Film Review: Ask the Sexpert

It wasn’t so long ago that sex education was nigh on inexistent in both America and the UK. Whilst we’ve come a long way, there are many who wish to take us back to the 1950s. And although it could be argued that there’s too much ‘information’ in Western magazines and websites aimed at teens, ‘too much’ is always preferable to too little. In much of the former Commonwealth, progress has been much slower, if not snail-paced.

In India, a combination of conservative and (various) religious values mean that sex is not something widely discussed within families or society as a whole. Ask the Sexpert is set to the backdrop of new moves by several states to ban comprehensive sex education in schools. It focuses on Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a 90-year old former gynaecologist who writes a popular sex column in a daily newspaper. In a long and prodigious career, Dr. Watsa has broken down many barriers, but it’s his column which has made him a national institution

In Vaishali Sinha’s documentary we meet the man as he goes about his work, both with his Ask the Sexpert column and alongside other campaigners. Revered and reviled, he’s a contentious figure who generates both nervous giggles and angry invective. Most people have heard of him, whether they’re prepared to admit it or not! Ask the Sexpert is a fascinating, funny and incisive profile of a man who has dedicated his life to help others. His methods may be unusual, but in a country increasingly moving towards traditional values, his voice is vital.

The European premiere of Ask the Sexpert takes place at Sheffield Doc/Fest on June 10.

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