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Do Gere and Shilpa deserve the flak?

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By: Raymond Ronamai
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It looks like Bollywood starlet Shilpa Shetty is akin to controversy. She hit the headlines recently by winning the British reality TV show 'Big Brother'. In fact, the racist comments that one of the contestants made against her during the show shocked the world like never before. This time, it is the 'Big Kiss' that has given her unwanted attention. Hollywood actor Richard Gere hugged and kissed her at a function that was meant to spread awareness on AIDS amongst the trucking community in the country. However, the gesture has not gone down too well with the Indian audience. Now, people from various quarters of the country have come out in the open condemning the act as an attack on Indian culture.

Gere and Shetty took part in an AIDS awareness programme called 'Seena Taan Ke' organised by the Truckers Corporation of India Foundation. The programme was to bring about awareness on AIDS amongst the truck drivers, who are the most vulnerable to the disease. As if to drive the point straight home that it doesn't spread through hugging and kissing, Gere hugged and planted several kisses on Shilpa Shetty's cheek at the function. But this 'kiss and tell' act has welcomed the wrath of the moral police. People from various parts of the country are protesting the act by burning the effigies of the actors. Political big wigs too have joined the furor by condemning the act. Prakash Javadekar, BJP spokesperson said that such a public display is not part of Indian culture.

However, it seems the incident has been blown out of proportion. People are making such a hue and cry of it and coming down heavily on the actors. It is sad that all the good that the actors had done have been forgotten. Shilpa's contribution to Indian cinema is huge and Richard Gere too has been working tirelessly for the country, which he calls his 'second home'. He had spent lots of his time and money to control AIDS in India and 'Seena Taan Ke' programme was also an effort to save the truck drivers in the country from the dreaded disease. But some people have made the issue a mountain out of a molehill. So, it is not fair to let such a trivial misunderstanding cover up all the good he had done.

Moreover, one must not forget that he is from a different country with a completely different culture and he is here working for a cause. Shilpa too is not alien to western culture, having lots of exposure from her film and other assignments. So, when celebrities with similar background meet, chemistry is bound to click. Also they are in a profession where kissing is the order of the day and even mouth-to-mouth kissing has made its way into Indian cinema. So, people should understand the aura they are in, and overreaction could do more harm than good. Gere is no doubt a big actor and a good human being. He deserves better treatment for the selfless works he has done for the country.

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