India: Economic Growth & Development

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gere: No officer, nor a gentleman

I was ignoring this story until I saw several Indians in the blogging community predictably use this opportunity to take cheap shots at Indian culture. Here is a typical example. In the context of Rajiv Malhotra's latest essay on Whiteness, it occurred to me whether this breed of Indian bloggers were displaying the classic symptoms of whiteness - adopting the white gaze to interpret everything Indian. After all, Fair and Lovely is only skin deep.

I decided to watch the Gere-Shetty "kissing" video on Youtube. I notice Gere's appearance - unkempt and shirt sleeves hanging out, flapping a bit. By contrast, Shilpa is more smartly dressed and it was she who practically pulls him on the stage in an attempt to get the job done.

In terms of the kissing sequence of actions, Gere starts by grabbing and kissing the back of her hand. Even this lingers for a while and clearly interrupts Shilpa's speech at the mike. Gere follows this up with a manouevre which sees him turn his back on the audience, move squarely in front of Shilpa, grab her upper arms and kiss both cheeks. At this point, Shilpa appears to me a bit taken aback; I thought she rolls her eyes a bit, steels herself but allows him to continue, hoping perhaps it will be over soon.

Little did she know that Gere was determined to do a practical demo of safe sex knowing his responsibility as an AIDS awareness campaigner. How better to demonstrate the risks of contracting HIV than to allow a total stranger to deposit significant quantities of saliva on your neck and cheek? at a public event? and one that ostensibly preaches AIDS awareness? Perhaps realizing that he had not yet made enough of a deposit, Gere essentially gets Shilpa in a bearhug and plants several more kisses in any exposed area his puckered lips could reach. Shilpa tries to escape without making a big deal out of it but one hand is holding the microphone and the other is trapped by Gere. At one point she is even bent 90 degrees at the waist in a bid to escape but to no avail.

The video catches a couple of guests, one of whom was probably Emraan Hashmi, the noted serial kisser of Bollywood movies - who appear to be watching indulgently initially but that soon starts to fade into sick smiles. The mad moment finally passes.

More than the actual kissing, this appears to be a case of outright sexual assault.

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