The Kiss Seen Round the Subcontinent

I can’t believe I’m even going to comment on this, as it’s a ridiculous tabloid issue. But the big media news around here for the last week or so has been the outrage over a celebrity kiss caught on a cell phone camera. Someone snapped a pic of actors Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur in a liplock, sold the fuzzy photo to Mid Day (Mumbai’s afternoon tabloid), and the whole thing has been front-page fodder ever since.

So what? I understand the whole privacy issue, but it was just a kiss!

Before I came over here people would tell me about how conservative Indian society is, and would often reference the non-kiss rule for Bollywood films. Bombay isn’t particularly conservative ? it is a city, after all ? but this “Kapoor-kiss-a” has really fed into the stereotype. Surely there’s got to be more news going on in the world than clandestine celebrity kisses? Well, there are also the occasional, sensational news stories about mass fires in the slums, mafia torture of a diamond dealer (whereby the victim was hung upside down and given a petrol enema), and disfiguring acid attacks on young women by jealous ex-lovers. But those pieces rarely merit as many column inches. (Ironically, this post is a case in point.)

I was semi-discussing this stupid Kapoor-Kapur story with an Indian friend last night and he brought up an amusing contradiction. At more than one billion people, India is poised to become the most populous nation in the world soon. Yet a kiss is taboo? You’ve got to wonder how this country was even populated at all.

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