I don’t know how many of you were aware but July 6th was the “ International Kissing day”! When I mentioned this on facebook, people wanted to know if I was serious. There were lots of witty remarks – about how people were faring, why it was international and not national and so on. Lots of smiley faces and social media abbreviations kept the conversations very lively right through the day. What really made me happy was the fact that we were discussing this without any embarrassment. Friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, acquaintances and the entire population of the virtual world.
When I think of a decade or more earlier, talking about a kiss like this in public would have been considered scandalous! I am sure all of you remember the huge controversies around those movies which portrayed a couple kissing on screen. Really stupid considering such vulgar scenes showing heaving bosoms and gyrating hips passed through the scissors of the censor board unscathed! But no- a kiss on screen was considered blasphemy! So film makers stuck to showing two flowers coming together or the hero and heroine emerging from behind a bush wiping their lips!!!
It was rare to see a kiss outside of an English movie those days. And ofcourse the only English movies that I grew up watching until I was about twelve or thirteen were the cartoons ( Walt Disney ones), Wildlife movies ( Hatari) and children’s movies like Annie. So you can imagine how puzzled I was when I first read about a kiss in a Mills and Boon novel. I read it again and again wondering what it was that was being described. I was not going to admit my ignorance by asking my friends about it. And then when I started watching movies like “ The Sound of Music” , “ Roman Holiday” etc things became clearer. But my confused adolescent Indian mind formed its own interpretations- that this was an act that only “foreigners” indulged in ! I don’t know what I believed of my culture but I could not bring myself to imagine that my parents, aunts, uncles or cousins had ever locked lips like that !!!
I can remember the first time I saw an Indian movie that portrayed a kiss – I think it was “Betaab” starring Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh. All the gossip magazines were talking about it and I think all of us went for the movie exclusively to watch this. But it was such a fleeting scene that we all came back disappointed!
Today almost all Indian movies portray a kiss and thank god they do it naturally and not like some illicit act! Of course there are some directors and actors who are type cast as “kissers” – Emran Hashmi in all those Mukesh Bhatt films could be easily given the title of “Lucky lips”!
These days we hear of school kids being caught kissing. Can’t be helped I guess, given all the other changes that have taken place in a society where we have shed our prudish behavior. Teenagers who are becoming aware of their sexuality are bound to experiment and it is shocking for us as that generation of parents that grew up talking about the act coyly! Whatever the consequences, I am glad that it is now all out in the open. There are no stupid innuendos around a kiss. It is becoming as acceptable as holding hands! But I wonder if it is also becoming a compulsion? You know, to constantly be at it to prove( to yourself and the world) how much you are in love ( or lust).
Couples in every culture express their love and longing for each other differently. The kiss is probably the most universal quasi public physical expression of intimacy. And now it is not restricted to people of the opposite sex. Society has become open enough to also read or watch in a movie, two people of the same sex kiss
But I sincerely hope that with all this hoo haa the language of locked lips is not taking over the romance world completely. There is the language of the eyes and the body that also speaks volumes. I wish films and books would continue to write about that!