The ‘Kiss of Love’ – An overreach on Indian sensibilities?
Way back in April 1997, on one exciting evening, I was holed up with my big-fat-joint-family in the living room, eager like a monkey on cocaine to watch the much awaited movie Raja Hindustani. Homework done, bags packed, dinner gobbled, permissions granted, I couldn’t wait for the movie to begin. Half way through the movie came a scene that no one in my family expected. My eagerness suddenly turned into confusion, not knowing where to look. A certain awkwardness seemed to have descended on every soul in the room. I wanted to giggle with my cousins, but strangely also wanted to disappear, almost guilty about the frame, about my presence. It was the controversial kissing scene between the lead pair. As a respite to my confusion came an over-bearing voice, asking us to turn off the TV and stop watching such non-sense.
Fast forward ten years and I had entered college, a rather new one. We weren’t surprised to see couples often stealing kisses in empty classrooms or some lone corners. They were usually caught red-handed, summoned by the principal, suspended for a while and of course reprimanded by their parents.
What if back in 1997 me and my cousins didn’t let our parents switch off the TV and threw a big tantrum? What if all those couples supporting the Kiss Of Love campaign with open displays that got caught staged a dharna, fought with the principal and their parents for not letting them express their love?
I have a few questions for everyone supporting the Kiss of Love controversy. What is your point? Do you want couples to show their affection out loud in a country where women are raped and molested by the minute? Or do you want to teach all those self-styled moral policemen that they need to know their limits?
I saw a video going viral a few weeks ago. It showed how apparently it is OK in India to throw garbage on the road, to be drunk as hell and drive, to be corrupt, to abuse underage kids but God forbid if one kisses in public. The video found a million supporters, but what was the point again? Littering is wrong, drunken driving is wrong, everything shown in the video is wrong. Anyone caught in these acts can be punished. If you are causing embarrassment to people around you by indulging in a specific act – including kissing, then you can be punished for obscenity. A dear friend pointed out to me that apparently the video was trying to ask everyone to stop making a big deal about the kiss of love and concentrate on other issues. So tell me my dear friend, how does making a video about this particular Kiss Of Love controversy help you get the attention of the viewer towards issues plaguing the country or the sensitive issue of moral policing? Sadly your point just got lost amongst all the angry voices of parents and protesters.
Kissing in public in India is still not openly accepted, not even by our own families. Truth is our families still shy away even from “Love Marriages”. Back in the 80’s it was wrong to talk to the opposite sex – today no one cares. Yes we are a coming-of-age country. We are opening up. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. You do see couples holding hands at the malls, hugging each other in an emotional farewell at the airport, stealing glances and dancing together at parties. Are they being penalized on a regular basis? There is a time and place for everything, as long as you can respect that, no one should be stopping you from showing your loved one your affection. Not the cops, not your parents, not even the Supreme Court, but the minute you cross the line, (which is a rather thin one in India) you will quite literally “feel the heat”.
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