Running Naked and Unmasked in Goa: Pleasure in the Pandemic
Keywords:Goa, India, Economic Liberalisation, Tourism, Hippies, Bollywood, COVID-19 pandemic
In November 2020, Indian celebrity Milind Soman posted a picture of himself on social media, which showed him running naked on a beach. He was charged with obscenity. This article considers the time and place of Soman’s act over the alleged impropriety. The photograph was taken on a beach in Goa, the tropical setting serving as a pleasure periphery to India which annexed the region in 1961. Accordingly, a longer history of states of undress in Indian advertising, filmmaking, and tourism are considered here to apprehend how Goa has been posited in the Indian imagination as a destination for wanton self-gratification while local realities are undermined. The article thus interrogates what it means for Goa, whose economy is overly dependent on tourism, to serve as a vacation spot during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when, in 2020, it had among the highest number of virus-related deaths in the country (Dias, 2020, par. 4). Using the metaphor of the celebrity who has no qualms about running naked and unmasked in Goa, this article enquires into what such events leave unrevealed in the economic requirement that some locales function as holiday destinations, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Abi-Habib, M. (2019, February 17). “The Pirate Days are Over”: Goa’s Nude Hippies Give Way to India’s Yuppies. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/17/world/asia/goa-india-tourism.html
“Anzar,” N. (1970, June 7). The Golden Sands of Calangute. The Illustrated Weekly of India, 20-22.
Arondekar, A. (2009). For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India. Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822391029
Baas, M. (2020). Muscular India: Masculinity, Mobility & the New Middle Class. Context.
Baugh, S. (2020). Y Tu Mamá También: Mythologies of Youth. Routlege. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315114248
Blackhawk, N. (2007). Recasting the Narrative of America: The Rewards and Challenges of Teaching American Indian History. The Journal of American History, 93 (4), 1165-1170. https://doi.org/10.2307/25094606
Clifton, J. (1999). Gender and Shame in Masaccio’s Expulsion for the Garden of Eden. Art History, 22 (5), 637-655. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.00180
Datta, R. (2018). Contemporary India: The Basics. Routledge.
de Souza, G. (2020, November 7). Milind Soman faces FIR, charged with obscenity for naked run on Goa beach. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/milind-sonam-faces-fir-charged-with-obscenity-for-naked-run-on-goa-beach/story-qNTXV5B9mxn0ccplDyddLI.html
Dias, C. (2020, December 4). What Goa’s Locals want You to Know. The Hindu. https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/what-goas-locals-want-you-to-know/article33250027.ece/amp/
Fernandes, B. (2020, November 4). Milind Soman shares a pic of him running nude on the beach on his 55th birthday. Republicworld.com. https://www.republicworld.com/entertainment-news/bollywood-news/milind-soman-shares-a-pic-of-him-running-nude-on-the-beach-on-his-55th-birthday.html
Ferrão. R. B. (2016, October 16). Making Goans Servants to the Tourism Master Plan. The Goan Everyday. https://www.thegoan.net//making-goans-servants-to-the-tourism-master-plan/24067.html
Ferrão. R. B. (2021). Disease and Discrimination in Goa: COVID-19 in the Afterlife of AIDS. Society and Culture in South Asia, 7 (1), 119-125. https://doi.org/10.1177/2393861720975113
Fiedler, L. (1968). The Return of the Vanishing American. Stein & Day.
Gehlawat, A. (2015). Twenty-first Century Bollywood. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315761048
Gilani, E. (2020, August 22). The Bollywood and the Socio-Economic Impact of GAP in India. Brown Girl Magazine. https://browngirlmagazine.com/2020/08/bollywood-and-the-socio-economic-impact-of-gap-in-india/
George, J. (2014, June 1). Sex Toys and the Law – The Unexplored Opportunity. In Plainspeak. https://www.tarshi.net/inplainspeak/voices-sex-toys-and-law-the-unexplored-opportunity/
HT Entertainment Desk. (2009, November 28). Milind Soman, Madhu Sapre Acquitted. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/milind-soman-madhu-sapre-acquitted/story-iemvUiKSHhvVPiVro3bDCJ.html
HT Entertainment Desk. (2020, May 18). Milind Soman shares Controversial Nude Photo Shoot from 25 Years ago, Wonders how it would be Received Today. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/milind-soman-shares-controversial-nude-photo-shoot-from-25-years-ago-wonders-how-it-would-be-received-today/story-nxSBq4AS5zJBbPljOWY9yL.html
HT Entertainment Desk. (2020b, November 9). Pooja Bedi defends Milind Soman’s nude beach photo: “His crime is being good looking, famous and setting benchmarks”. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/pooja-bedi-defends-milind-soman-s-nude-beach-photo-his-crime-is-being-good-looking-famous-and-setting-benchmarks/story-BKtdhNAxme1Ob0PGApQXfK.html
Kandolkar, V. (2020). Consuming Goa Portuguesa: Vacationing in a Postcolonial Colony. Journal of Human Values, 26 (3), 266-276. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971685820940895
Khan, S. (2020, May 6). 11 Bollywood Movies we Love and Where to Watch Them. Condé Nast Traveler. https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/bollywood-movies-we-love-and-where-to-watch-them
Menezes, V. (2020, November 8). A Party Destination at the Best of Times, Goa Overwhelmed by Visitors during the Pandemic. Mumbai Mirror. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/others/sunday-read/go-goa-gone/articleshow/79103281.cms?fbclid=IwAR1rxwoM_LuAMkmacu922yBhEiBMUPEzhJDTc7VmWrWZ963GRwjVt-Si97E
Miller, T. S. (2011). The Hippies and American Values (2nd ed.). The University of Tennessee Press.
Mojo Story. (2020, March 11). What Milind Soman said about the RSS and his Time in a Shakha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fCi2OFkwR8
MW Staff. (2013 November). Learning to run from Milind Soman. Man’s World. https://www.mansworldindia.com/healthandfitness/learning-to-run-from-milindsoman/
Parobo, P. (2015). India’s First Democratic Revolution: Dayanand Bandodkar and the Rise of Bahujan in Goa. Orient BlackSwan.
Press Trust of India. (2019, September 24). Person behind Poster for Nude Party in Goa “Tracked Down”: Chief Minister. NDTV. https://www.ndtv.com/goa-news/pramod-sawant-goa-chief-minister-on-goa-nude-party-poster-says-tracked-down-person-behind-it-2106395
Press Trust of India. (2020, April 24). COVID-19: Goa Govt makes Wearing of Masks Compulsory. The Economic Times of India. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/covid-19-goa-govt-makes-wearing-of-masks-compulsory/articleshow/75353438.cms
Pundir, Pallavi and Shamani Joshi. (2021, January 7). “Almost Forgot COVID Existed”: Confessions from Indians who Partied like there’s no Pandemic. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/7k9eqz/india-covid-goa-party-rave-confessions
Rao, N. (1996). The Fourth Periphery and the Two Conventions. The Eye, 2 (4), 16-18.
Ray, S. (2020, November, 12). Explained: What is the Measure of “Obscenity” in India?. The Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-milind-soman-obscenity-in-india-6998750/
Routledge, P. (2000). Consuming Goa: Tourist Site as Dispensable Space. Economic and Political Weekly, 35 (30), 2647-2656.
Saldanha, A. (2007). Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race. University of Minnesota Press.
Sharma, S. (2016, May 10). Mother’s Day Special: Madhu Sapre’s Fairy-tale Life in Italy. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/mother-s-day-special-madhu-sapre-s-fairy-tale-life-in-italy/story-io9yCpz4z5wyXVwvfKG95I.html
Sherwani, F. (2020, November 15). Milind Soman Booked for “Obscenity”: History of Obscenity under Section 294, and how it is Defined. The Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-history-of-obscenity-under-section-294-and-how-it-is-defined-7048062/
Soman, M. [milindrunning]. (2020, November 4). Happy Birthday to me ! [Photograph]. Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CHJ5XC3HQT9/?hl=en
Staff. (2020, November 5). As Poonam Pandey is Arrested for “Obscenity” in Goa, Twitter asks why Model Milind Soman got Away. Scroll.in. https://scroll.in/latest/977776/as-poonam-pandey-is-arrested-for-obscenity-in-goa-twitter-asks-why-model-milind-soman-got-away
Trichur, R. (2013). Refiguring Goa: From Trading Post to Tourism Destination. Goa 1556.
Tyler, I. (2001). Skin-tight: Celebrity, Pregnancy and Subjectivity. In Sara Ahmed and Jackie Stacey (Eds.), Thinking through the Skin (pp. 69-83). Routledge.
Vohra. T. (2017, April 6). A Controversial NSFW Ad from 1995 that Created an Uproar. Homegrown. https://homegrown.co.in/article/800877/would-this-controversial-milind-soman-ad-from-1995-make-the-cut-today
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 CC-BY
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who submit articles to this journal agree to the following terms:
1. Authors are responsible for ensuring that any material that has influenced the research or writing has been properly cited and credited both in the text and in the Reference List (Bibliography). Contributors are responsible for gaining copyright clearance on figures, photographs or lengthy quotes used in their manuscript that have been published elsewhere.
2. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License that allows others to share and adapt the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
3. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository, or publish it in a book), with proper acknowledgement of the work's initial publication in this journal.
4. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (see The Effect of Open Access or The Open Access Citation Advantage). Where authors include such a work in an institutional repository or on their website (i.e., a copy of a work which has been published in eTropic, or a pre-print or post-print version of that work), we request that they include a statement that acknowledges the eTropic publication including the name of the journal, the volume number and a web-link to the journal item.
5. Authors should be aware that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License permits readers to share (copy and redistribute the work in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the work) for any purpose, even commercially, provided they also give appropriate credit to the work, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. They may do these things in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests you or your publisher endorses their use.