Quite similar to a diamond being the jewel of a crown, a kiss in a Bollywood movie the crowning glory of sorts. The true novel value of entertainment. Not the songs. Not the scenic locations either. And at times, not merely the assortment of a great star cast. How to make a fiery ensemble of a cast work holds an enormous power to decide the fate of a movie.
The formulaic working is often about adding a dash of spice and entertainment in movies that give fans something thrilling and yet, make audiences croon in rave applause. That’s been the case for a long time- while we are no one to judge anyone- and that may always remain the case, for entertainment purposes, of course.
But at the same time, it is important and worth remembering that so much of romp and spicy makeovers are a part of Bollywood today that had there not been a film without a kiss, it may not even be a film. Perhaps, the logic seems right- if you are a watching a film from the contemporary structure of film-making that does not have a kiss in it, are you even watching a film? That said, no Bollywood movie era can ever go without comparisons.
We’ve been increasingly told that today’s movies are about an unbridled enthusiasm featuring romance and a free expression of creativity. Bollywood movies are increasingly breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ as we are told. To be held back, to make films that portray conservatism, so deeply rooted in the Indian culture is no longer the mantra or an order of the day. There are movies like Veerey Di Wedding and Befiqre. Kissing was almost as incessant a part of movies as there were costume-defining roles in Mughal E Azam. There has been other, seemingly uncompromising brand of cinema such as Fire, Earth. But to think that the ‘masala’ value has only been added or increased in the recent times would be the biggest misnomer.
Not an irrational claim. Rather, a truth implicit to Bollywood for the longest time. Did you, for an instance, know that there was a movie known as Nagan ki Ragini, a film made way back in the day when none of the gaudy, salubrious names in Bollywood had even existed such as Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone or any other?
What if you were told that the movie- Nagan Ki Ragini- had the longest ever filmed kiss in a sequence, that lasted for nearly 4 minutes? Would you believe that? Furthermore, would you then say that today’s movies are far more ‘racy’ and ‘saucy’ in terms of celebrating these enthralling ‘freedoms of expression?’
Not a film that was enchanting for its cinematic contribution to Indian cinema. Not a film that was widely-celebrated for bringing about any massive transformation to a woman-driven narrative in movies either. Nagan ki Ragini featured the on-screen couple, Devika Rani and her co-star, Himanshu Rai, the duo, interestingly a real-life couple. The kiss, the most stand-out factor in the film lasted for four minutes.
So, take that Deepika-Ranveer or Ranbir-Alia! Some acting goals now newly set in movies of today. It’s true that a kiss is that effervescent part of a movie that makes heads turn in celebrating the most passionate feeling ever. It’s also true that kisses heighten expectations viewers have of films. But what’s perhaps not right or can be said as a misplaced assertion is the very fact that kisses are not implicit in the firmament of cinema today. They have been there in the movies of the past as well. And therefore, in truly enjoying cinema for what it is, perhaps its best to enjoy it without judgements. For accepting it in totality for what it stands.