Lounge loves | Agents of Ishq

They hope to 'give sex a good name'

There’s a big red heart with yellow signal bars, rising and falling. The heart connects. A moustached man and a long-haired lady sit atop a moon, while two flying, tech-savvy women kiss and three love-struck men ride together on a little red Vespa. Wherever you point the cursor, a reminder to “follow the heart" tags along.

This is the landing page of the Agents of Ishq (AoI), a bilingual (Hindi and English) multimedia website on love, desire and sex by Paromita Vohra, a Mumbai-based film-maker, feminist and writer of Khamosh Pani: Silent Waters.

Sex education in India is yet to—for lack of a better term—come of age. But AoI is tackling issues of propriety (or the lack thereof) as well as awkwardness by being simple, sensitive, cool-looking and…fun.

The landing page promises you that upon following the heart, you will find “honest conversations" and “good vibes". Capturing this feel is a wistfully illustrated short story, Today My Mother Came Home, by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, about a gay man and his relationship with his mother, for the most part coloured by his sexual orientation, as also by life itself. It has Gif-style art by mixed-media professional Afrah Shafiq woven into it.

AoI is also working with artists the world over.

The Multiling Biscuit, a Hindi version of The Genderbread Person by American “social justice comedian" Sam Killermann, simplifies the fluid, non-binary nature of gender for a young adult.

Their Sexy Saturday Songs playlist has a new curator e very week who lists songs—even seemingly “innocent" ones—which they think are (or have elements of the) sensuous. They accompany each embedded video with a little note. The latest is a list by journalist Sidharth Bhatia.

There is an in-house condom-use-advocating mascot, too—Munna. And Munna is…a condom. Visitors are encouraged to AMA (Ask Munna Anything). Coupled with the section’s inherently meta vibe is the amusement that comes from reading Munna’s Bollywood-song-quoting and colloquial-phrase-using advice on when to use a condom (yes, mostly always!). The experience is made funny and friendly, mitigating possibly cringe-worthy moments.

The website is also riding the wave of podcast resurgence with a series only one episode old; it also hopes to initiate a video series soon.

Even though AoI is still very new, its focused yet relaxed approach, clearly demarcated sections and quirky illustrations make it a space we would love to watch.

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