When I was a kid my parents used to whisk me away from Hollywood movies because there used to be extensive kiss scenes. As a result of which I never got to see any of the endings of any Hollywood movies from the 90’s because almost all of those movies had the hero and the heroine having a grand kiss to bring the movie to a close. About the same time, in Bollywood, the most risque scene and probably my earliest memory of a Bollywood movie, was the kiss scene from Raja Hindustani. In case you want to “study” that scene, here’s the link: Raja Hindustani.
What does a kiss mean? Well there’s a whole article about that and you can check it out here . But as I am talking about movies, so I am talking about what a kiss means in a movie. It only means one thing and that is love. Or to be specific it’s an expression of love.
Now, the way in which a kiss is show on-screen totally changes the concept of kissing. As I was talking about Hollywood movies, so let me continue with that. As far as I remember, whatever the context of the movie used to be in the 90’s, it usually used to end with a kiss. So the kiss at the end of the movie would obviously suggest a culmination of the affairs of the movie and an establishment of the couple in question. A kiss between two people who are married to their respective “better” halves usually meant an act of betrayal or the crossing of a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. On reviewing those movies after 10 years, a kiss which suggested betrayal had so much subtlety in it. The heroine would push the hero away from her, followed by an expression of shock and then an immediate gesture of apology. No music, no excess dutch-angles, nothing.
In comparison to that, look at that scene from Raja Hindustani. It’s like the director did a pound of cocaine and edited that scene, and what’s the deal with Karishma Kapoor? Kissing in the 90’s usually used to suggest an act of immorality and I wouldn’t blame the directors for that. Because ART is a reflection of SOCIETY. The society in those times used to be very conservative about kissing and every other public display of affection and rightfully so and I do laud that. But this is a reflection on steroids. If we fast-forward from Raja Hindustani to 2007, you can still see the trend in the movies.
If you have gone through all my Amateur Analysis articles, you will probably notice that I am a huge fan of Imtiaz Ali. So here’s another reason why I love his movies. In Jab We Met, either him or his producers, suggested the over-sexualisation of the kiss scenes and even the scene with Geet and Aditya hugging. Cut to Tamasha, you can clearly see the difference in the scene where Tara and Ved share their first kiss. He makes it as natural as it is in real life and it doesn’t feel like the kind of taboo the previous generation of directors used to make it look like.
So why this change and why did directors in the mid 90’s and 2000’s used to make kissing look like stabbing someone’s brain with a butter knife? And why are we seeing a return of those oversexualized scenes in movies like Befikre, Wajah Tum Ho or every Emraan Hashmi movie which exists?
I think it’s because today’s directors(the ones who over-use kissing) think that kissing is a sign of being parallel to Hollywood movies. They think that if there is a lip-lock in every scene possible then their movie is “like” a Hollywood movie. Unfortunately it isn’t so. It isn’t the kissing that matters but what is the context of that kiss or what are the consequences of that kiss. I think that if a kiss is done without music and no cocaine induced editing, it will have a much more profound effect than the Raja Hindustani kiss and will not leave a mental scar in the minds of the viewers.
SEX and RAPE:
By now we all know that the Certification Board doesn’t know about the Restricted(R) rating, so movies with sex scenes aren’t going to be released in any way possible. But that’s a topic for another day. Sex scenes used to be a joke in Bollywood movies because usually it used to be shown by touching two flowers with each other or hands clutching with so much vigour that I am sure the hero must have cracked some of the heroine’s bones.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to see butts and boobs thrashing against each other. I don’t. Especially not on the big screen but I also don’t want sex to be suggested with such stupidity. The most recent movie which made me go WTF! was when the writers of Kaabil dedicated more than 5 minutes of movie-time to talk about sex. There was no maturity about it because they were talking about love-bites and how the girl had to explain in detail what the said couple had “done” that night to some aunty and they were bloody giggling while talking, as if they were 17!!
The movie that brilliantly suggested the night-time affairs was Nightcrawler. It consisted of no sex scenes or detailed conversations. It was expressed through subtle one-liners and very chilling glances. A more recent movie about a young couple in La La Land took that route. We know they stay together and sleep together so they obviously have sex. No explanation needed. So my ardent plea to Bollywood will be to suggest sex instead of using their “writing” skills to blabber about it.
Now, onto the most controversial topic I might have spoken about in my entire life. I apologise in advance if this paragraph insults any victims of rape or those who feel I am trivialising the topic. Rape has always been handled with no care at all by Bollywood. From it’s depiction to it’s reaction, everything suggested that the rapist is a mard and the victim should be isolated from society, and Kaabil reminded me of the 80’s by their depiction of rape. First of all (and I don’t know how many of you will agree), no rapist will cover a girl after raping her. Now that was probably done in order to follow the guidelines given by our respected Pahlaj Nihalani but what just blew my mind was the reaction of the characters. It was just mind-blowing and I was so angry that I wanted to throw my shoe at the screen. I didn’t because my shoe was worth more than that movie. In that movie Rohan, who is the husband of the victim is more scarred than the victim herself, which eventually leads to the victim committing suicide. Such archaic writing in 2017.
In stark contrast to this pile of poop, a gem of a movie was released in 2016 amidst a lot of controversy. The name of the movie was Udta Punjab. The depiction of the horrors that were occurring on Alia Bhatt’s character was evident through the expression in her eyes. In one scene, she explains that whenever the pimp brings a man to her room, she just looks at the advertisement of Goa that is visible from her window and that helps in getting her through the process. That is called intelligent writing and directing of a topic that should be addressed by every Indian. Because the number of rape cases and molestation cases is on a continuous rise in India and if every Indian starts to react like Rohan “effing” Bhatnagar then that will lead to the destruction of the lives of every rape victim.
I am also not saying that every movie should talk about rape in order to bring awareness but if a writer thinks it is necessary to include rape in a movie then he or she should handle it in a way that creates awareness and not a sense of rejection, in the mind of the viewers.
In my previous article about how love stories are done in Bollywood, I mentioned a comment by Michael Caine and he was talking about nudity. He said that there shouldn’t be nudity because it distracts the audience from the plot. I partially agree with that. I think that nudity shouldn’t be glorified with oiled-up abs and cleavages. During 2000-2009 there was an onslaught of movies showcasing excess and unnecessary nudity. Good movies like Munnabhai MBBS also wasn’t spared. Now after SRK’s famous Dard-e-disco, Bollywood is resurrecting that trend and demanding that every actor should have a mandatory six-pack and every actress should have a mandatory bikini body. Those are probably great for music videos but not for movies.
I think nudity should be used to bring either of the two effects.
The first one is a sense of shock. I am talking about “The Walk of Shame” from Game of Thrones. It consisted of full frontal nudity but the creepiest of the creeps must have looked away from their T.V. screens when Cersei was making her way down the steps. It incited a sense of trauma and pity and that can be achieved through nudity.
The second one is much in line with the first one and that is to bring a sense of vulnerability. It was perfected in the scene from Badlapur, where Raghu torments Radhika Apte’s character to make her realise how powerless she is. A nude man or woman is at their most vulnerable and of utmost submission. I think that will elevate the emotion attached to the scene and then the cut away to the sky or the moon or even the fire-place will seem justified.
So this is my ardent plea to the writers and directors to please stop doing whatever they are doing, really. And bring some nuance to their work.
FINAL VERDICT – I think a new age is coming to Bollywood and the dictator of “righteousness” can try his best to stop that but he won’t be able to. So my request will be to the audience and the readers to be more accepting of the natural facts of everyday life instead of considering them as some kind of taboo. I am actually writing this article because I am seeing a return of the archaic notions from the 80’s and the 90’s and a parallel idea of revolution through vigorous kissing. None of those are a sign of progress. A balance is required and movies like Tamasha, Aligarh, Udta Punjab, Highway etc. are taking a step towards that equilibrium. In order to support these ideas, we as an audience should watch and review the content before screening them before-hand and also voice our opinions in order to fine-tune Bollywood to perfection.
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