One of the biggest Bollywood news stories currently doing the rounds is that of whether or not there is a kiss between the lead actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the much awaited Bollywood sci fi film to be released, Ra. One. While some reports gleefully report that there will in fact be a kissing scene between the lead pair, SRK himself has stoutly denied the reports.
According to the King Khan, there are two things he will not do in movies – he will not kiss and he will not ride a horse. He was quoted as saying that he feels weird kissing on screen and also he doesn’t know how to do it.
The point here is not whether or not X will kiss Y for Z number of seconds or minutes; but the lascivious amount of attention that film and the alleged kissing scene receives for this. This is a telling critique on movie audiences in the country!
So what is it with Bollywood and kissing? Why does on screen smooch raise a furore and so many eyebrows along with it? That poor chap Emran Hashmi, (aka the serial kisser) is known more for his labial abilities than his histrionic ones. The media routinely counts the number of smacks and smooches that a film has and collectively gasps that some old Mallika Sherawat film had 13 liplocks, and calls it a record! Never mind what the film was about!
The slavering media attention was focused last year on Kurbaan, the film starring Bollywood’s hottest couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, for, you guessed it, a steamy kiss! It would seem that a record has been created for the longest kiss on camera; the steamy osculation which was supposed to be the longest between any two stars in the history of Bollywood. And this made headlines!
So were we always so prudish, so priggish, so prissy, so uptight (running out of adjectives here)? No, as it would seem. Prior to independence and the subsequent establishment of the Censor board and its gimlet eye, kissing was apparently fairly routine in Hindi films. So it is the censor board that suddenly decided upon this holier than thou attitude for Bollywood, which reduced on screen lovers to longing looks with the camera promptly cutting to flowers passionately embracing or doves cooing and billing…
When Raj Kapoor reintroduced the Kiss in his Ram Teri Ganga Maili, that caused a sensation! Aamir Khan and Karisma Kapoor’s kiss in Raja Hindustani (the one with the camera twirling round and round to indicate the import of the situation), had reams written about it! It is par for the course now; Bollywood appears to have come the full circle.
You would have thought that we Indians would have got the hang of all the kissing by now; but the fact remains that Bollywood actors kissing on screen still appear awkward, self conscious and ill at ease. This probably owes itself to the fact that the KISS is still such a big deal for most of the movie going public; and the actors are all too aware that their kiss will be looked at, examined, analysed and dissected to the nth degree. So is it really any wonder!
So whether or not Ra One will contain a passionate kiss or not is really immaterial at this time. This Bollywood film has garnered the publicity needed and whetted the curiosity of the film going public just enough so that they will talk about it, discuss it and then when the movie releases (which is still a long way away though, 26 October to be precise) will go and see for themselves whether or not it was true!