Monday, April 16, 2007

Shilpa Shetty-Gere kiss sparks protests

SHILPA REACTS: The controversy forced Shilpa to call for a press conference on Monday evening.

Actor Richard Gere has sparked protests in India after kissing Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty at an Aids awareness rally in New Delhi.

Demonstrators in Mumbai set light to effigies of the Hollywood star, while protesters in other cities shouted "death to Shilpa Shetty". The protesters said Gere insulted Indian culture by kissing the hand and face of the Bollywood actress.

The Sainiks were protesting against Richard Gere kissing the actress at an AIDS awareness programme in Delhi, and demanded an apology from Shilpa Shetty.

Shilpa held an impromptu press conference and exclaimed that she was 'shocked' by the protests. "India has the second highest number of HIV patients in the world. Yet, we are talking about the kissing incident rather than the HIV cause. We should not waste national time on such trivial issues."

The actress refused to apologize for the incident. "Apology! For what? Did he kiss on my lips? Did he do my vastra haran? Have you never seen a man kiss a woman? Don't act stupid! I don't think anything wrong has happened to me. I am someone who lives with dignity,"
Shilpa said.

The actress added that
Gere had called her thrice to apologise for his act. She stated that he had kissed her to entertain the audiences -- there were 4,000 truckdrivers present. "Richard cannot speak Hindi and that's why he did that dancing number in Bollywood style to keep those truckers entertained. I don't think anything wrong happened, so why should people ask me to apologise?" she asked.

"Our culture says,
Atithi Devo Bhava (the guest is God) and I don't think it is right to treat our guest in such a manner," she continued. "I am proud of my culture. Moreover, Richard is someone who is trying to help HIV patients for the last nine years in India. This is not the way to behave with him. He believes in this cause and has given his support from time to time.

"We talk of India going into the 21st century and being progressive. Is this the way to behave?" she questioned. "What kind of reputation do you want to project by this act? These people don't do anything for
HIV patients and when others do something, they protest. I feel it is a joke because people are politicising such a trivial issue."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a society that has been deeply damaged by colonialism can one think of a more offensive image of a white guy grabbing a daughter of India and forcing himself upon her? It is so symbolic. It is right in line with the image of the white colonist forcing himself upon a country and just taking whatever he wants.

Richard Gere should pay the ultimate price for this.

What bothers me however is those who would blame Shilpa Shetty for this.

Too often women victims of rape in India are blamed for what happened like they wanted the rape to happen or it was their fault the rape happened even when the truth might be that the rapists brutalized them and they couldn't stop the rape from happening.

While of course Richard Gere didn't actually rape Shilpa Shetty, I still see this whole "Blame the Woman Victim" dynamic in place. From what I saw from the video Shilpa Shetty did nothing to cause Richard Gere to act the way he did, and was in fact as shocked as everyone else was that he would act in such a disgraceful manner.

We need to defend this daughter of India, not blame her for this white man's assault upon her.