Actress Shilpa Shetty has criticised the media for “creating a ruckus” over Hollywood actor Richard Gere kissing her on stage at an AIDS awareness function in New Delhi on Sunday. Actor Sunny Deol and more than 4,000 truck drivers were present at the function.
Refusing to apologise, Shetty called for a press conference while shooting for Metro at Kopar Khairane on Monday. She was livid with reports of her effigies being burnt across the country, including outside Kopar Khairane railway station.
Shetty said what Gere did was not a vastra haran (disrobing) and “it was not the first time that someone was seen kissing on television”.
“I don’t know how to react. People are talking about Indian culture and burning effigies of Richard and me. They can go ahead, I know I have not done anything wrong,” she said.
In Varanasi, Shiv Sena and Bande Mataram Sangharsh Samiti activists as well as Muslims burnt effigies of the two actors to protest the “attack on our cultural ethos”. Kanpur and Bhopal saw similar protests.
Defending the Hollywood actor, she added: “He has devoted nine years of his life to spread AIDS awareness. Those who are speaking against him need to answer what they have done for the country or the cause of AIDS.”
Shetty said Gere had decided to give a dance pose to entertain the crowd.
“I was taken aback and so looked a bit awkward. When he went on his knees and said ‘Thank You’, I realised that he wanted to entertain the crowd. It was a pose from his movie Shall We Dance.”
She said Gere had called her to apologise.
“He was so worried. He asked me to convey that he did not want to hurt anyone’s sensibilities,” she said.
The Controversy that happened:
Hollywood star Richard Gere kissed Shilpa Shetty on stage during an AIDS awareness function in Delhi.
This led to widespread protests across the country, with people burning effigies of the two actors.