February 9, 2005

Government Funds for Parsing Porn Flicks

Indian forensic labs analyze adult videos to protect populace.

David Goldenberg

In India, appearing in a pornographic video is illegal—specifically, committing "immoral trafficking" is grounds for imprisonment. So when former beauty queen Anara Gupta was accused of appearing in a porn flick, the scandal sent shockwaves throughout the country. The plot has grown thicker in recent months (read here for some background), as Gupta was taken into police custody for several days (along with her family) and gave a taped confession, which she later claimed was tortured out of her.

More strangeness has transpired over the last few weeks. After a forensic laboratory in Hyderabad analyzed the video, they found that the woman in the film was not Anara Gupta. The charges were dropped, and Gupta’s family planned to file a countersuit. But then a forensic lab in Chandigarh presented evidence that Gupta, in fact, was the woman in the video (check out this report from the India Times). Citing such similarities as “asymmetry of the nasal cavities” and “functional position of upper eyelid with right iris,” the scientists found that Gupta most likely was the woman in the movie. The case reopens in about a week.

Though this case has become a huge story in India, inspiring a future Bollywood movie (see more here), all of the sympathy Gupta has been getting has been about false accusation, not about the pettiness of the crime itself (check out this piece). Even if Gupta’s confession is true, all that means, probably, is that she was persuaded to get naked by a cable producer who was preying on her desire to get into the film industry. Hardly sounds like grounds for a fine, much less a (double-blind) forensic investigation and incarceration. Surely the Indian government, given the poverty of many of its people, could make better use of the funds used in the Gupta case.

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Article by David Goldenberg

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