Is intimacy in Bollywood back in closet?
Apr 29, 2007 - 4:58:41 PM
New Delhi, April 29 - The Hindi film industry has come a long way from the days when a kiss between the male and female lead in a film was represented by two flowers meeting and intimacy was suggested by lights being switched off or a setting sun.
But the box-office failure of films with above-average adult content coupled with a series of diktats against public and on-screen displays of intimacy may lead filmmakers to put sex back in closet.
A peck on Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty's cheek by Hollywood star Richard Gere has somehow labelled them as offenders deserving court arrests. Likewise, internationally known star Aishwarya Rai has been summoned to explain an 'obscene' kissing scene in 'Dhoom 2' in a Muzaffarpur court in Bihar on May 30.
Her co-star Hrithik Roshan and the owners of a cinema, which screened the action flick, have also been summoned.
Not too long ago an Israeli couple that married in India was fined $22 for indecency caused by their wedding embrace in a holy town. Priests were offended when the couple kissed and hugged during the chanting of religious verses. The apologetic couple said they were unaware public kissing is banned. A university in Pune made news when it enacted a ban on kissing, hand holding or even cuddling on its campus.
Back in the reel world, upcoming actor Emraan Hashmi, who was once better known as kissing king, has decided that he will quit smooching on-screen. Other Bollywood actors have also decided to give up steamy scenes in reel life.
The first one to join Emraan's 'non-kissing' league is newcomer Kiran Jhanjani who requested his director to delete a long lip-locking scene with actress Malishka in forthcoming film 'Sitam'.
Another actor in the making, Arjun Punj, refused to give lip service to bombshell Mona Chopra in 'Time Pass'.
And it's not only the male breed but female actresses too are ready to skip steamy scenes. While established actresses are known to object to steamy scenes or ask for a body double, even beginners like Maushami Udeshi are known to have said no to a reel kiss.
In fact, the proverbial sex bombs of Bollywood have sobered down even as some actresses from the top league have slipped into sexy bikinis.
Neha Dhupia, Mallika Sherawat, Payal Rohatgi and Celina Jaitley are among those looking for only 'acting-oriented' roles. Rakhi Sawant is still doing her jiggling and booty shaking. But then, who wants to see her anymore?
Consider this. No skin flick has managed to put the cash registers on fire since 2005. Even films with heavy doses of cleavage and skin show are dodgy about sex.
Actors in Hindi films look supremely uncomfortable doing intimate scenes. Some films play safe by showing only dark outlines of the couple in bed like 'Parinda', 'Freaky Chakra' and 'Maqbool'.
'Our filmmakers were trying to incorporate sex scenes when actors don't seem to be ready for them. Sure, we should change with the changing times. But wouldn't it make better sense for filmmakers to make sure the actors are set to play the part convincingly rather than fumble through it,' says commentator Deepa Gehlot.
Our actors look uncomfortable in bedroom scenes. The scenes lack any chemistry or sincerity. So while Hindi films may have brought sex out of the closet, they are still extremely uncomfortable about it.
There are some exceptions like Rahul Bose, who kissed Laila Rouass so passionately in Dev Benegal's 'Split Wide Open' that her tooth chipped. And Naseeruddin Shah shocked viewers when he kissed Tara Deshpande with fervour in 'Bombay Boys'.
From here on, our filmmakers may go the full log or send intimacy back into the closet.
Yash Raj Films, which gave last year's biggest blockbuster 'Dhoom 2' and landed in a legal tussle over a passionate kiss between lead stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, is playing it safe in 'Ta Ra Rum Pum'.
This is the first big release of year 2007 for the most illustrious production house in Bollywood. It stars two of the country's best-looking stars - Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji.
The producers have stuck to wooing family audiences with this film that hinges largely on family values and triumph of the human spirit. Observers say family audiences are emerging as the biggest chunk of multiplex audiences. Family dramas will clearly be the biggest box-office drawers this year.
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