India Entertainment
My dance move was a misread of Indian customs: Gere
Apr 27, 2007 - 5:34:17 PM

New Delhi, April 27 - Hollywood superstar Richard Gere Friday said his 'dance move was a naive misread of Indian customs', expressing surprise at the media storm over his onstage-kissing episode with actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness campaign in the capital.

In a letter addressed to Indians, Gere wrote: 'To be honest, this recent media storm has taken me by complete surprise. What we thought was a very successful HIV-AIDS event has taken a sad turn. My clumsy attempt at a 'Shall We Dance' dance move was a naive misread of Indian customs and I assure you nothing more.'

Gere said that he never intended to hurt Indian sentiments.

'What is most important to me is that my intentions as an HIV-AIDS advocate be made clear and that my friends in India understand that it has never been, nor could it ever be, my intention to offend you. If that has happened, of course it is easy for me to offer a sincere apology,' he said in the letter.

The event in question was intended to celebrate courageous people and partnerships in the fight against HIV-AIDS, a worldwide pandemic that has afflicted over 5 million Indians and is still increasing.

Gere was all praise for Shilpa in his letter.

'Shilpa is a courageous and wonderful woman who deserves high praise and support for her singular leadership against HIV-AIDS. I assure you, I have utmost respect for her, and she knows this. Of course, I've felt terrible that she should carry a burden that is no fault of hers. The burden is mine and no one else's.

'And finally, I would hope that the media could now end the circus around this episode and dedicate its positive resources and expertise to the eradication of HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases. That's what's really important here. My prayers are with you.'

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