Gere-Shetty kiss fracas hits UK headlines
The brouhaha in India over Hollywood actor Richard Gere's stage embrace with Shilpa Shetty has hit the headlines in Britain.Updated: Apr 17, 2007, 12:53 IST
The brouhaha in India over Hollywood actor Richard Gere's stage embrace with Shilpa Shetty has hit the headlines in Britain, where she continues to make news after her victory on the Celebrity Big Brother show earlier this year.
Several newspapers published the picture of Gere embracing Shetty at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi, along with a detailed account of the protests across India and the Bollywood actress' response to them.
In a headline titled 'Kiss that shocked India', the Guardian reported: "Many saw the act as an outrage against Shetty's modesty and Indian culture, though Shetty dismissed the protests as an 'over-reaction' that made India look silly.
"Groups of men burned and kicked effigies of the actors in protests across India, including in the northern Indian cities of New Delhi, Kanpur, Meerut and Varanasi as well as in the central city of Indore."
Under the headline 'Gere arouses Hindu ire over stage kiss', the Telegraph reported: "Hindu nationalist groups objected to an onstage clinch between her and Richard Gere, the actor, during an AIDS-awareness rally.
"Gere jokingly grabbed her and planted several kisses on her cheek, to howls of appreciation from an audience of New Delhi lorry drivers. But members of the Shiv Sena organisation burned effigies of Gere in the streets of Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city, and demanded that he leave the country immediately or apologise for his 'indecent conduct'."
The Independent reported the event - 'Indians angered by Gere's passionate embrace with Shilpa' - saying: "The evening was supposed to focus international attention on the sexual misadventures of India's famously promiscuous lorry drivers.
"Instead, it plunged Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere into an unwelcome spotlight and re-ignited controversy surrounding Bollywood actress and Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty."
The report said: "Television footage of the star of 'An Officer And A Gentleman' plastering Shetty in kisses has sparked violent demonstrations in India over the couple's allegedly loose sexual morals.
"While the multiple embrace went down well with guests at an open-air AIDS awareness event in Delhi on Sunday night - the audience and Shetty roared in delight at the star's affectionate greeting - it has caused deep anxiety among some."
"Militants, fired up by repeated showings on India's many rolling news channels, burnt and kicked effigies of both actors in protests, claiming the overt kissing was a full frontal assault on the country's tradition of modesty and extra-marital chastity.
"Shetty defended the actor's behaviour - he swept her backwards in an embrace and repeatedly kissed her - insisting that Gere had done nothing 'obscene'. She described the protests as an 'overreaction' that made India appear 'regressive' in the eyes of the international community," it added.
The Times reported the event - 'How Gere inflamed Indian passions with a stage kiss' - by saying: "Angry crowds in the conservative north of India set fire to dolls representing Gere who, as a practising Buddhist, is a regular visitor to the subcontinent and prides himself on his adherence to local customs.