A peck on the cheek or a kiss on the lip onscreen is no longer something which can scandalise the viewer. The new crop of actresses today may not be brazen but are certainly bolder than the earlier coy actresses who were content running around trees to show their affection for their leading men. With brevity the mantra these days, film heroines have started shedding not only just clothes but also their inhibitions, ready to cross even frontiers when it comes to displaying passion and love for their beloveds. Like Alia Bhatt, Parineeti Chopra, Nargis Fakri, Shraddha Kapoor etc. Jyoti Venkatesh reports for NRI Achievers …
It was unthinkable even five years ago for heroines with star status to indulge in smooching onscreen. Of course a Madhuri Dixit in DAYAVAN or a Dimple Kapadia in SAGAR could get away with a liplock but even as far as they were concerned, it was a strict no-no to smooching, till Rani Mukerjee took the bold step of smooching Kamalahasan in HEY RAAM. Recently Rani went one step ahead when she didn’t hesitate to kiss Amitabh Bachchan on the lip in BLACK because the script demanded it. And she smooched Abhishek Bachchan, her co-star in BUNTY AUR BABBLI. Preity Zinta lent dignity to the smooch in SALAAM NAMASTE in which Saif Ali Khan was the lucky recipient of her smooch. Considering that Preity didn’t think at all that it was a big deal when it came to asking him whether he was a virgin in Mani Ratnam’s DIL SE, the smooching sequences with Saif in SALAAM NAMASTE didn’t elicit wolf whistles or catcalls amongst the audience since director Siddharth Anand had shot them aesthetically. Today Emraan Hashmi flaunts a T Shirt, which has 'Serial Kisser' written on it and revels in being labelled as the smooching actor, with his smooching sequences in MURDER with Mallika Sherawat, AASHIQ BANAYA AAPNE with Tanshree Dutta and JAWANI DIWANI with Celina Jaitley.
The smooching sequences in NEIL & NIKKIE between Uday Chopra and Tanisha also blended with the background for the simple reason that there was a great deal of bonhomie and amazing chemistry between the lead players which enabled them to shed their inhibitions with gay abandon. The fact that both Uday and Tanisha were young also helped a lot in lending credence to the impact of the smooching sequences. However, not all the new actresses today are ready to go ahead and do smooching sequences. Take for instance Ayesha Takia. She had the gumption to say 'No' to Yash Chopra when she was offered the role, which ultimately went to Tanisha in Yashraj Films NEIL & NIKKIE. Says Ayesha, as a matter of fact. “It is nice to do roles with your dignity intact. I cannot do films, which require me to display my skin unabashedly. I do not think I am ready to do a Chameli. I said no to Yash Chopra when I was offered NIEL & NIKKIE because I did not want to do the smooching sequences in the film and prance around in a skimpy bra all around the beach. I do movies, which I believe in. I do not at all aspire to be the No 1 actress in Bollywood by hook or crook."
Payal Rohatgi who sashayed her way through sleazy flicks like TAUBA TAUBA, MEN NOT ALLOWED, FUN etc., asserts that the trend at the box office today is to go for films with bold and shocking themes. She adds without mincing words. “I like to play real characters with shades. I’d like to do roles which complements my glamorous image, like in Subhashji’s 36 CHINA TOWN directed by Abbas-Mustan. At the end of the day, when you do a smooching sequence it is just yet another facet to my character and does not reflect me as an individual.” Payal feels that every actress in the 1950’s and 60’s wanted to be either a Madhubala or a Nutan because the industry wasn’t willing to accept experiments. “Nudity is a part of the learning process as far as an actor is abroad. Our level of exposure isn’t that large even though we come from a sexual background of gods, goddesses and Khajuraho.” Payal also confesses that it is definitely not flattering to be dubbed a sex symbol. “I am more than just flesh and blood, though at the same time I’d not hesitate to say that I love the way I look. I do not like the scrutiny behind the tag of the sex symbol. Whether I do a liplock sequence or a smooch on the screen, it is high time that people started looking beyond that aspect of mine.”
Sonali Kulkarni may have a holier-than-thou image as far as Marathi and Hindi films are concerned, but she did an intimate smooching lip-to-lip passionate sequence with aplomb in an Italian film called FIRE AT MY HEART in which she played not an Indian but an Italian girl who lives in an Island and picks up corals and pearls. It was based on a true story. Sonali, an actor believes in giving her 100% best to the characters she sets out to play, is made of sterner stuff. She believes in going by the demand of the script and merging with the character, the hallmark of any good actor.
In Kalpana Lajmi’s CHINGAARI Sushmita Sen played a sex worker who was exploited by the village priest or Panda as he is called, a role-played by Mithun Chakraborty. According to Sushmita who did a passionate smooching sequence in the film with her co-star Anuuj Sawhney which had snowballed into a big controversy, “CHINGARI wasn’t at all a ‘today’ film on any count. When I agreed to be a part of the project, I asked Kalpana whether she was sure that I was suitable for the role of Basanti, the hard-core sex worker and she said that she would work on the role. What I liked about her as a director is that she told me that it does not excite her to cast an actress according to his or her image.” Sushmita admits that she did feel very bad when Anuuj Sawhney who plays the postman opposite her in CHINGAARI chose to seek publicity by using their lip-locking scene in CHINGARI. Sushmita adds: “My tolerance level is high. I felt bad because Kalpana as a director has not made fun of sex workers in her film. The photo with Anuuj’s quotes was disrespectful. I did not want to be part of this sort of marketing strategy, which could end up giving wrong signals to the viewers that it is a sleazy film. I think he was childish though his intention was not wrong.”
All said and done, with almost every other actress on the scene today not hesitating to smooch on the screen, after Mallika Sherawat blazed a new trail with her record number of 37 kisses in her debut film, Indian Cinema is growing. At a time when globalization and corporatisation have become the big mantras in Bollywood, Hindi Cinema has come of age and the day will not be far away when it can compete with the best of world cinema and leave its own huge impact globally, like Hollywood cinema today. We can even go to the extent of stating that today kissing is passe. Smooching is in !