A forbidden Bollywood love

By Sujay Kumar

This summer, in a Hindi musical blockbuster event, superstar Hollywood heartthrob hero Richard Gere and beautiful Bollywood bombshell Shilpa Shetty star in a romantic story about breaking the shackles of forbidden love, in “Kiss No, Kiss No, Kiss” (KNKNK).

Trailers for KNKNK include the dashing Casanova Gere holding Shetty’s hand at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi. As the music wafts in the background, Gere begins to kiss the heroine’s hand, when suddenly he locks her in an embrace and smooches her cheeks. The raw passion!

Out of nowhere, Gere dips Shetty and woos her with more kisses. Her mouth hangs open in pure joyous shock because of his loving outburst. Fantastic! Gere then drops to one knee and bows to Shetty in front of the 4,000 truckers in the audience. Romance on the silver screen!

The trailer ends with a flustered Shetty saying, “Yeh thoda zyada tha (this was a little too much).” This tantalizing film is coming to a theater near …

Kya? This is not a Bollywood extravaganza, but a true story?

Apparently, Gere, who’s a golden 25 years older than Shetty (an age difference that begs for its own plotline), was parodying a scene from “Shall We Dance?” after Shetty praised his performance in the film.

Instead of an elaborate dance sequence filled with Switzerland locales and scintillating dance moves where Gere and Shetty express their pyar, ishq, aur mohabbat (love, love, and love) for one another, the kiss was followed by mobs burning effigies of both actors in the streets. It seems as though conservatives in the Indian government are the villains of this story who oppose the love, err, liplock of our couple.

The kiss has been denounced as indecent behavior, a violation of tradition and an attack on the ethos of Indian culture. Shetty has even said that the smooch was strictly Gere’s culture and not hers.

Before you get up for a samosa at this article’s intermission, a judge in the city of Jaipur issued the arrest of the two stars for violating obscenity laws. The judge released a statement saying that Shetty, whose in-film gyrations have never generated this much buzz, did nothing to resist the “highly sexually erotic” kiss. If convicted, the only flirting Gere and Shetty will be doing is from prison cells.

Now this is where there’s usually a sad song sequence. Picture a rain-soaked Gere walking through the streets of Bombay, lost in thought, while everyone around him whizzes by. The musical score pulls at your heartstrings, so feel free to shed a few tears and blow your nose.

Poor, poor Richard Gere. A foreigner entangled in an international story of humanity, betrayal, and Shilpa Shetty … wait a minute, this is KNKNK! Throw in a song where Gere dances on a train, a dramatic Hindi narration by legend Amitabh Bachchan, and English subtitles and it’s the perfect mix for a blockbuster.

So where could KNKNK’s story go from here? There’s no need to look further than some recent Bollywood hits.

Gere could challenge the Indian government to a game of cricket. If he wins, his whole village, I mean entourage, would never have to pay taxes again. Imagine a sweaty, bare-chested Gere in Gujarat. Yes ladies, dreams do come true.

Or maybe he could use his magical powers to jump across Malaysian rooftops while fighting crime. He could dawn a mask, wear a sweet black leather jacket and go by the name of Rrich.

What if Gere were a mafia boss? He would first have to die, but there would be another lookalike Gere in a village! The police would recruit village-Gere to act as boss-Gere and infiltrate the underworld.

The guardians of Indian womanhood against Western ideas would be defeated in all of these films. Whatever the plot may be, Gere and Shetty would be able to dishum dishum (fight) oppression, dance and kiss without causing a stir.

Of course, as long as this story stays on celluloid.