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Aruna Shields' nudity upset director's wife

Posted By: Raymond Ronamai
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London"s desi import Aruna Shields who was last seen cavorting with Vivek Oberoi in Prince has bettered her score in her second Hindi film. In Mr Singh Mrs Mehta she has bartered the bikini for her birthday suit.

Though the censor board has generously passed all the nude scenes and torrid love sequences between Aruna Shields and Prashant Narayanan in Pravesh Bhardawaj"s Mr Singh Mrs Mehta with an 'A" certificate, the director"s wife Shruti Nagar (who works with Rajshri Productions) has objected to the way the director has repeatedly caught the couple in intimate postures, all across the film.

There are three lengthy love-making scenes in Mr Singh Mrs Mehta. The wife feels her director-husband has over-done the sex and nudity. Apparently, she has made her displeasure amply clear to her husband.

Says Pravesh, “There is one particular love-making sequence to which my wife Shruti reacted very strongly. Yes, Shruti did object saying, 'Ek aadh scene hota to koi baat nahin par yahan to puri film iske hi ird-gird ghoom rahi hai'. She was very upset about the subject matter itself. There is a sequence in the film where Neera (Aruna Shields) undresses and her clothes come off one by one. Shruti, my wife, thought that I should tone it down and not make a career selling nudity."

Pravesh did reconsider his approach to nudity, kissing and love-making. “It did make me rethink, but it was a critical sequence in the film. I think she is upset that her husband made a film where nudity is central to the story itself. Actually she doesn't approve of the script, the reason being nudity."

The director admits that the nudity content is over-the-top. And the censors suggested that the ladies" bare back be blurred. “She is naked but had to blur it out wherever her derriere got exposed. A couple of censor members who were divided in their opinion wanted to go back on their decision and cut it out. But I think they realised that the psychological impact was not diluted. We agreed on blurring the butt. For me nudity is drama not the visibility of genitals. And the psychological impact is not diluted. I am happy with the end-result."

The director hopes that the bare flesh is not misconstrued to be meant for titillation. “The film has been written for the average Indian viewer. I know I am taking a risk and I hope they get the point. Otherwise I will fail. But I am confident it gets across."

Another sequence where Aruna Shields poses nude for her painter-lover has been passed uncut.

Heaving a sigh of relief Pravesh says, “Ashwin (Prashant) has seen her naked. So Neera (Aruna) the muse is naked. And I didn't want the sequence to be like the one in Titanic which was removed from the Indian version. The sequence is quite long and Neera is naked in the entire painting sequence. Certain shots where her back is visible have been blurred but nothing had to be deleted from the film. The idea is not to provoke but to make it acceptable in our minds without making her a slut in the film."

Pravesh feels that the censor board has demonstrated a deep maturity in passing the film. “We did have more than one revising committee screenings and lots of anxious moments. But if you ask me I would like to send a bouquet to censor board. No scene has been snipped."

Actress Aruna Shields (earlier seen with Vivek Oberoi in Prince), agreed to go nude. “Naturally, as she"s posing for a nude painting. I am quite relieved that the film was cleared. I was very nervous and afraid as people around me started counting the kisses too. I did not have the budget to shoot alternate shots so depending on the clearance either I had a film on hand or none. I have shot the film in a certain manner where cutting out a sequence or faster cutting of certain scenes would have killed my narrative. I want to be with 'world cinema'. The biggest creative risk that I have taken is to have just four characters. The film is shot with a hand- held camera keeping in mind the intimacy of storytelling. A lot of scenes are done in long takes. So if I had to snip a few scenes it would have looked totally odd. In the final scene, the nude scenes must be for around ten odd minutes or more."

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