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Meet Bollywood’s Intimacy Consultants: Consent, Breaking Stereotypes And Props

Aastha Khanna (L) and Neha Vyas speak on the importance of an intimacy coordinator while filming on-screen intimate scenes.

Before filming the sex scenes for Mastram, a 2020 Indian erotic series now streaming on MX Player, the filmmakers hired Amanda Cutting, a Canadian intimacy coordinator. Her assignment was to choreograph the sex scenes and to ensure that the actors were comfortable.

This incident led Aastha Khanna to embark on the unexplored path of intimacy coordination. Khanna, 26, is now India’s first and only certified Intimacy Coordinator. She pursued a 16-week course in intimacy coordination from the Intimacy Professionals Association based in Los Angeles, USA in September 2020.

Khanna intends to sensitize the Indian entertainment industry on the need for intimacy coordinators.

“While working as an Assistant Director, I was on a constant lookout for specialists who worked on intimacy direction but could find none. We didn’t have any in India. That’s when I thought of becoming one,” says Khanna. She has worked as an Assistant Director on sets of movies like Student of the Year 2, Andhadhun and Badlapur.

While Khanna is the only certified intimacy consultant India has, there are several others on the road to becoming one. Neha Vyas is an actor and a producer. She is currently aiming at getting certification as an intimacy coordinator. Having been an actor herself, Vyas could understand an actor’s concerns better.

“Actors are thrown into places where they feel like they don’t have the right to have a conversation. That made me think that it is time I train myself”, says Vyas.

India Ahead spoke to Aastha Khanna and Neha Vyas to discuss the role and need of intimacy coordinators in the film industry.

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