Will the audiences see Deepika-Ranveer liplock in Ram-Leela?
I spent a significant chunk of my littlehood in a gorgeous boarding school in Andhra Pradesh called Rishi Valley School, where every weekend, there was a movie screened for us at the school auditorium by way of entertainment.
These movies were almost always impossibly neutral, exploring Hallmark card-rated themes like dogs and children and, on particularly thrilling days, Vikram Aur Betaal dubbed in Telugu. One weekend — and I have no idea how this happened — we reached the auditorium to discover we were going to watch The English Patient. Nice!
Except: was it? I have no idea. Because the heavily-edited version we ended up watching made no sense at all. Our school's one-member censor board comprised the supervising teacher, who literally flew across the room every time it looked like there may be an onscreen kiss or a fondle coming up (a great workout considering it was The English Patient) and covered the projector with his hand, so that effectively we were all staring at a blank wall for several minutes at a time.
Sometimes, I have to wonder if this teacher went on to head the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which frequently behaves in much the same way. The CBFC takes great pride in being the self-appointed guardian of Indian culture and stubbornly ignores the existence of any form of human sexual interaction and/or intimacy in spite of our fascinating population figures.
But for a relatively brief periods, Bollywood has historically been ready to pucker up if the director demanded it. Back in 1933, Devika Rani kissed her co-star (and husband) for three whole minutes in Karma. This remains the longest kissing scene in our film history so far. Certain films may have been of shorter duration, but kisses like the ones Zeenat Aman shared with Dharmendra in Shalimar and Shashi Kapoor in Satyam Shivam Sundaram are no less worthy of mention. Later, Madhuri Dixit’s lips met Vinod Khanna’s in Dayavan.
It's only since the '90s that the kiss has acquired the air of being the symbol of Western Corruption as far as the CBFC was concerned. Some managed to skirt the CBFC's attention. For example, Aamir Khan, who has the distinction of having managed pecks with almost every heroine he's worked with, shared a never-ending kiss with Karisma Kapoor in Raja Hindustani. These films released without having to go through the kind of heartache that Ram Leela is suffering at the moment for a kissing scene that is considered too long.
Admittedly, ever since Mallika Sherawat came out to play with Emraan Hashmi, the promise of a steamy on-screen kiss has been all that’s needed to make audiences sit up, listen, and head to the nearest theatre. It's not a good script or actor you need to woo audiences, but announcing you’ve got a record number of kisses in your movie.
So PR representatives and daily newspapers will continue to go blue in the face trying to make a massive noise with ridiculous headlines like “Aditi Rao Hydari breaks Sherawat’s record with 22 liplocks!” and “How long will Aamir Khan kiss Anushka Sharma in Rajkumar Hirani’s Peekay?” and the scowling censor board will get into combat mode, armed with Thor’s hammer, ready to break into a Hulk Smash.
Depending on your perspective and levels of cynicism, it's either cute or alarming that the CBFC thinks an on-screen kiss will corrupt tender Indian minds when there are statements like CBI Director Ranjit Sinha's floating around. When 'rape' is a word that's bandied about casually, then you've got to wonder how much damage a kiss between two consenting adults can wreak.
Though if it was demanding kisses be edited because they're appallingly executed, the CBFC would have a very strong case. One hundred years of Indian cinema and we still haven’t found a way to make kissing someone look like a pleasant experience. There are no warm and fuzzy/erotic implications in even the most talked-about kisses, and I can’t recall a single scene that made me think it must be the most wonderful feeling in the world (which it often is in real life).
At best, our awkward actors look like they’re trying to delicately spit out a watermelon seed; at worst, it looks like statutory rape. I think an Indian reality show participant inadvertently described it best when she said (of her and her boyfriend) in one episode, “Humko smooshing karna bahut pasand hai.”
Now the latest in the CBFC's firing line is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much-awaited romantic drama Ram Leela, starring Ranvir Singh and Deepika Padukone. Singh has been spotted around town with a newly-chiselled and bronzed body, yapping about how the kiss between him and Padukone in this movie is going to be the sexiest this country has ever seen. Meanwhile, the folks over at the censor board are going, “Ha-ha, that’s what you think” and collecting everyone’s leftover Cock Brand 600-Garland Atom Bombs from Diwali.
Scheduled for an all-India release this Friday, press and VIP previews were suddenly cancelled to allow for some “last minute tweaks” in the film, which we hear includes a court-ordered edit of Singh-Padukone’s smoochy smoosh, erm, smooch. They’ve also reportedly been asked to change the movie’s name because obviously "Ram Leela" would mislead stupid unsuspecting movie-goers into thinking they’re watching a movie about Lord Ram only to discover it’s about Padukone’s long legs Singh's dandruff (it's bad, if the "Tattad Tattad" dance moves are any indication).
As it stands, Additional District Judge AS Jayachandra has reportedly restrained Bhansali and Eros promoters from releasing the movie till further orders. We'll keep our fingers crossed that all parties involved will kiss and make up before Friday.
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Updated Date: Nov 13, 2013 15:46:50 IST