Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Is not-kissing (or kissing) a thing anymore?

Most things are just reactions, and reactions to reactions. A person who hasn't seen Indian films at all might be puzzled as to why there isn't the ubiquitous kiss you find in American films whenever there is even just a thread of romance in there somewhere. Another person who has seen and likes Indian films might defend the "no kissing" trend by talking about the benefits of not-kissing; the flirtation through looks, gestures and dialogue. In fact, a filmi fan might even get overly defensive about this sort of thing: "why should there be kissing? it's called acting!"

I recognise this sort of defensiveness in myself when I was really getting into Indian films and everywhere I turned, it seemed, I found something new to love and gush about. Then there was the flipside of not-kissing: the gratuitous almost B-film style full-tongued make-out sessions that were rather a turn-off. Due to actors like Emraan Hashmi gaining reputation not as good actors but as "serial kissers", it's no wonder some people will actually claim a preference to non-kissing. Perhaps not quite coincidentally, some of the most popular actors, like Shahrukh Khan, still refuse to kiss on-screen.

But times change, and it's not 2005 anymore. While some people shed tears over the fact that it seemed that the "no-kissing" trend was petering out to give way for more on-screen macking, perhaps it wasn't so much a surge of the kissing trend as it was just moving to a period where neither option was the prevailing one. At times there would be kissing, at times there wouldn't be.

So I wonder - is not-kissing a thing anymore? Is it still a distinct trend, a phenomenon that's mostly observed?

In my own personal experience, I've noticed a definite shift from paying attention to nonchalance. I no longer notice that a film has kissing, or has fake-kissing, or hasn't got any kissing at all. A romantic pair bumping foreheads instead of lips can have the same emotional impact of a happy ending, but if there is kissing, I'm not usually taking notes as to whether this kissing is awkward, gross or perfectly executed. It no longer feels like a necessary or an unnecessary feature in mainstream Indian films. It's just another choice made by the director or by the actors in a way to convey a romantic relationship on-screen.

But of course, I may be alone in this. There may be some people who feel like not-kissing should remain a feature integral to romantic Indian films, that it gives them a unique emotional flare, where subtext is there, but lip-on-lip action just isn't, and doesn't have to be. Perhaps to some, there is still a relevant debate to be had about this subject.

What do you think?

I recently rewatched The Dirty Picture, and noticed that for such a raunchy, honestly sexual film with brazenly sexual characters, nearly all the kisses seemed to be the kind where actors just turn away from the camera. I'm sure that says something on this subject, but I'm not quite sure what..

1 comment:

Sahil Salunke said...

Hi veracious,I must say your blog is a fascinating read.
Although you might be aware of this but incase you aren't then- Indian society is still not fully mature enough to handle kissing in films. Hence most big league actors refuse to kiss on screen as it can be scandalous to their careers and sometimes to their personal lives as well. Their fan base can get affected by enacting such scenes as these are still considered fit only for B-grade flicks by the Indian audience.

As a result most of the lovemaking scenes are restricted to adult films. Only in the last decade of Bollywood have mainstream movies started showing somewhat explicit scenes of passion and love.

It is all a reflection of what is considered acceptable by particular society at a particular time. A case in point would be the fact that leaving aside the upper strata of the Indian society social kissing etiquette is not welcome in India. The French do it all the time, the British are somewhat reluctant but Indians never do it.
But the times keep changing. Who knows what the Indian public may demand five years down the line!