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Kissa Kiss Ka

Days after Nepal gets its first on-screen kiss, we look back on India's own starry, writes Princy Jain.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2008 18:47 IST
Princy Jain

Turns out, Nepal is a lot more liberal than its neighbour India when it comes to film.

Kagbeni, which has the first ever on-screen kiss in a Nepali film, has been received without much fuss in Nepal. In India, kissing - onscreen or off it - is practically a recipe for controversy.

Directed by Bhushan Dahal, Kagbeni is a Nepali adaptation of W W Jacob's 20th-century supernatural classic, The Monkey's Paw.
Taboo times
Hindi cinema got its first kiss in 1933. Devika Rani, grand niece of nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore kissed her husband Himanshu Rai in Karma (1933).

Not only was it a long drawn out kiss, she was also shown lying atop Rai. Says film author and journalist Anupama Chopra, "That is one passionate kiss from Indian cinema."

Rani wasn't the only one kissing on-screen. Lalita Pawar and Sita Devi have also kissed in the films of the 1930s.

Says film author and historian Dinesh Raheja, "Since acting in films used to be a taboo in those days, most of the actresses of the time were Anglo Indians. They were fine with kissing on-screen."

All that changed after Independence. In the '40s and '50s, Hindi cinema was populated by actresses who refused kissing roles.

Says author Kishwar Desai, "This was due to the influence of the Victorian and Gandhian values that were popular then. There was no formal ban, but there was certainly an unspoken no-kissing-onscreen rule."

Later, in the '60s, Raj Kapoor brought kissing back with Mera Naam Joker.

What probably helped Indian audiences swallow that was the fact that, as Raheja puts it, "His (Kapoor's) heroine was Ksiena Rambiankina, a Russian woman, so there wasn't much protest."

Water and steam
Protest followed almost instantly after the steamy lip-lock in Satyam Shivam Sunderam (1978). Kapoor directed his brother Shashi to kiss Zeenat Aman under a waterfall.

Says 75-year-old Shashi Aggarwal, "Those were exciting times for the aam janta. They weren't the days of controversies or lawsuits. The kiss was a major pull."

Casual kissers
Most industry watchers believe Indian actors have always looked a little uncomfortable kissing on screen. Present day actors Aamir Khan, John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi are our most casual kissers.

Aishwarya Rai's kiss in Dhoom 2 and Karishma Kapoor's lip-lock in Raja Hindustani were also much talked about well after both movies left the cinema halls.

Famous kisses
Mera Naam Joker (1970), Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), Jaanbaaz (1986), Dayavan (1988), RajaHindustani (1996), Khwahish (2003), Pyaar Ke Side Effects (2006)