Kirtu is a word that, by association, has become synonymous with sexually explicit comics or animation originating in India, which depict modern Indian sexuality. The common noun is derived from the domain name of the popular erotic comics website Kirtu.com, although as a proprietary eponym it is often used to refer to Indian cartoon pornography in general, much like hentai is used to denote sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation from Japan, particularly anime, manga, and computer games.
Pornography is illegal in India, and although it is available virtually anywhere, especially in areas where pirated material is already being sold, it is generally of the softcore variety and typically of low quality.
Hardcore pornography involving actors and models, both on film and in photographs, is much more difficult to come by, and almost impossible to produce and distribute domestically because of the ban. Therefore, illustrated and animated pornography is an increasingly popular alternative in India to hardcore content performed by people. Although various websites and print outlets besides kirtu.com exist, animated pornography in general is often referred to simply as "kirtu".
India played a significant role in the history of human sexuality, from writing the first literature that treated sexual intercourse as a science, to modern times, where the origin of the philosophical focus of new-age groups' attitudes on sex came from. It may be argued that India pioneered the use of sexual education through art and literature, and it is the birthplace of the Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior.
In Indian film and television, there is currently a decrease in the taboo related to the depiction of sexuality. However, many Bollywood films, with an emphasis on the rich and urban class, rarely depict the true values that most Indians have about sex. Since a legitimate pornography industry has yet to emerge within India, many low-quality, foreign-made films featuring Indians are made abroad and then imported, leaving open the possibility of sexual exploitation.
Illustrated graphic pornography, however, removes the possibility of sexual exploitation while addressing the same explicit subject matter.
The term "kirtu" originates in the Kama Sutra. Modern translations of the ancient text are all based on original writings attributed to Vātsyāyana, a Hindu philosopher in the Vedic tradition who is believed to have lived during time of the Gupta Empire (4th to 6th centuries CE). The Kama Sutra was composed from many sources, not all of which were used in the Vatsyayana version. Deshmukh, the pseudonymous creator of Kirtu.com, claims to have chosen as its name the anglicization of the Sanskrit term for an untranslated and forbidden sex position in the uncompiled Kama Sutra texts that involves the penetration of all of a woman's orifices, much like the mythical Venus Butterfly position in the West. This position is known as the "kirtu".
"Savita Bhabhi - The Sexual Adventures of a Hot Indian Bhabhi" is the most popular kirtu comic in India It is an erotic webcomic about the adventures of a bored and emotionally neglected housewife. Initially, the cartoon strip was free to view, but, after the government threatened to prosecute the strip's creators and the owners of its website, the strip moved to kirtu.com and required a subscription fee to view.
In addition to Savita Bhabhi, the site has developed many other ongoing and limited-edition series specifically aimed at Indian culture, each of which caters to a certain demographic of the population. The site and its contents have become a cause célèbre for cultural freedom among many of India's liberal thinkers and social scientists.
- Times of India, "Savita Bhabhi tests India's patience for porn", 29 July 2009.
- livemint.com, "Carnal comic - An exclusive chat with...the makers of...cult online comic ‘Savita Bhabhi’", 10 August 2010.
- France 24, "'Savita Bhabhi', the sexy sister-in-law driving India crazy", 21 May 2009.
- MiD DAY, "About Savita Bhabhi's disgusting antics", 18 June 2008.
- Verve Magazine, "Bhabhi Girl", Volume 16, Issue 12, December 2008.
- pandey.ru, "The cultural subjugation of Bharat by India: A Deconstruction of Savita Bhabhi", "The official blog of the Pandey family".