They’re two of India’s biggest Bollywood stars. Yet, they may never be paired opposite each other on-screen. Reason: Actors Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor are first cousins. That’s the predicament filmmaker Imtiaz Ali’s has found himself in, while finalising the cast of his next film, Rockstar. Ali feels the Kapoors suit the roles perfectly, but "the audience will never accept them as a romantic duo."
“I’d love to have Kareena in my film, but I’m also in talks with Ranbir. If he agrees, I’ll have to drop Kareena. I know she will hate me if I cast her brother and not her. But it can’t be helped. The audience won’t accept. So, whoever comes up with their dates first, bags my movie.”
It is incest
Ali is not alone — several other filmmakers are weary of casting the cousins in a romantic role. Says Rock On!! director Abhishek Kapoor, “I’m not comfortable siblings romancing on screen. The chemistry would be too twisted, unless, of course, the film deals with incest.”
Film producer Madhu Mantena explains why the Indian audience won’t be able to digest such a pairing. “Because of the joint family system that a lot of us have grown up in, it is never easy to accept.”
What the audience wants
So has the Indian audience not matured to the idea of cinematic liberty? “No, Indians, of course, will have a problem, because they never think anything is just on-screen. I don’t think there will ever be a day when we shall be okay with seeing cousins kiss on-screen,” says adman Prahlad Kakkar.
The audiences, however, seem uncomfortable with the thought. Writer Priya Sharma, 24, frowns, “Yuck! I know it’s supposed to be fiction, but it’s still weird… and it has nothing to do with being Indian.” MA student Mukesh Adhikary, however, says, “I don’t see why there should be a problem. Must we take everything we view so seriously?”
Talking about acting with Ranbir, Kareena said, “Maybe Ranbir and I should do a film, act as friends, or as brother and sister, but as lovers... I don’t know.., maybe if the audience wants.”
Inputs from Rachana Dubey