Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bollywood-style kiss sparks outrage in India

Hollywood actor Richard Gere's repeated kisses on the cheeks of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty (as shown on the photo by Reuters) in an onstage event to promote AIDS awareness sparked protests in India with demonstrators burning effigies of the actors.

In Indian Bollywood films, romantic songs and dances are a common feature and one wonders what all the fuss is about relating to what Gere did.

Gere is a well-known Buddhist and an active supporter of the Dalai Lama. He has also been a persistent advocate for better human rights in Tibet and campaigns for AIDS awareness.

Hindu radicals have gone on a rampage in several north Indian cities Monday to protest describing the actors pose as an intolerable and obscene act. It is against the values, culture and traditions of the nation, they claimed.

A defiant Shilpa Shetty who is in the eye of the storm reacted angrily over the burning of the effigies and the protests by the Shiv Sena across the country.

"Nobody is talking about the real issue. I think the only mistake was that it went slightly overboard," Shilpa said.

Defending Gere's "impromptu act", Shilpa said instead of asking him to apologise "we should be thankful to him for doing so much for the cause".

Expressing her anguish over the media's handling of the issue, Shilpa said, "I want to know from the media and people giving reactions. What have they done for the cause?

"We took out time and put money, and people are going against us, they want us to apologise. For what should we apologise, we have talked about a pertinent issue like AIDS," Shilpa said.

Shilpa has subsequently said that Gere has spoken to her three times and repeatedly apologised if he has hurt anyone's feelings.

This whole incident smacks of racial bias and bigotry.

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