Bollywood has always more or less stayed true to its times; with a constantly evolving society, it has reflected the values and mores of the prevalent societal culture. Showing the kiss which is one of the most commonly understood expressions of romantic love, on screen, has always been a matter of extensive debate in our deeply divided traditional as well as progressive country. India has always been conservative regarding public demonstrations of affection. It is then, a matter of surprise to many of the present generation that their grandparents’ generation of pre-independent India had a much more open attitude towards viewing a kissing scene in the movies. Seeta Devi was the first Bollywood actress to pucker up for the 1929 movie A Throw of Dice.
The beauteous and bold Bengali Devika Rani, wasn’t afraid to give a screen kiss to her hero and husband Himanshu Rai for an astonishingly almost 4 minutes duration, thus setting the record for the longest Bollywood kiss at the same time, in the movie Karma in 1933.
After Independence, the Bollywood industry started becoming more discreet in showing any kind of overt display of affection. Touching of hands, caressing of cheeks was deemed acceptable for public viewing, but somehow two pairs of lips touching another pair gave the censor board palpitations. Various ‘Acceptable’ forms of ‘kissing’ were chosen. A kind of sign language that was understood easily by the public, was used ; for instance, people had to deduce that the two flowers touching each other on the screen, actually meant that kissing was going on between the lead pairs. Even the private lives of the stars of yesteryears were kept private by the media, unlike the present times.
The kiss between the lead pairs, Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman in Raj Kapoor’s 1978 movie Satyam Shivam Sundaram brought about a fierce debate whether a kissing scene was an insult to Indian cinema or not and the then Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran argued that it was. But, the kiss was shown after the film won the battle with the Indian Film Censor Board.
As a consequence of a world that’s rapidly opening up and the resultant exposure; Indian audiences are slowly becoming more mature and less squeamish about viewing a kiss on screen. Major actors in our Bollywood industry are looking comfortable in their kissing scenes and are unafraid to do them. Unlike Shahrukh Khan who doesn’t usually do kissing scenes, Aamir Khan is another one of Bollywood’s biggest stars and has had a kissing scene with most of his female co-stars in his various movies including with Karishma Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee.
Emraan Hashmi has even got the title of Bollywood’s ‘Serial Kisser’ and he isn’t embarrassed about it. His movies from the Bhatt stable, always have Emraan puckering up his lips for his female partner.
Indian film actress’ have been generally shy of committing themselves to a kissing scene because of their need to preserve a pristine public image. But, the present lot are taking a lot of chances and are enjoying it too.Vidya Balan, the actress who seems to be on top of her game now, with everyone praising her for her acting skills and bold choice of movies, has been unafraid to kiss on screen, right from the beginning.
Katrina Kaif is another top actress who has finally let go of her inhibitions on screen, to share a kiss with Hrithik Roshan in the super hit film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
Kareena Kapoor has always shown her comfort in her kissing scenes in the movies; be it a Shahid Kapoor or Saif Ali Khan.
Mallika Sherawat went to town tom-tomming her achievement of the maximum number of kisses in the movie, but Aditi Rao Hyadri has taken the lead at present with a score of almost 22 kisses in her movie Yeh Saali Zindagi in 2012, without much fuss; an indication that the movie going audience is getting more blasé about the complete thing.
The maturity of the audience was tested again with Bollywood’s first gay kiss in the 2010 Sanjay Sharma directed controversial film Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyon. This kiss between Kapil Sharma and Yuvraaj Parashar is a sign that the gay community also feels the need to showcase and view their feelings and stories on the wide screen.