6 Aug 2017

Bollywood Specials: Shah Rukh Khan and the Kiss Dilemma

Jab Harry Met Sejal 

Way back in 2004, Neha Dhupia was promoting Julie, her steamy solo-heroine mainstream movie. The makers made no pretense that sex was the film's main selling card. Neha Dhupia then uttered what summed up the status quo,"In Bollywood, either sex sells or Shah Rukh Khan."

Dhupia had unwittingly also rounded up Bollywood, its star system, typecasting and the blatancy of formula in that one brief statement. In commercial Hindi cinema, sex scenes are often filmed in a sleazy and gratifying manner. It has nothing to do with telling a story. Thirteen years later, nothing much has changed, except that Bollywood now tries to sell everything, from stars, sex, cover versions of older hits, younger struggling stars to....Shah Rukh Khan.  

The other side of it: Once a star gets too big an image to be tampered with, the roles are written with an almost platonic, noble flourish. The kisses (lip-to-lip, to be precise) don't make it to the story. The white-sheets draped Maya Memsaab (1993) encounter was shot before Khan's stardom. Ramesh Sippy drenched Khan and Raveena Tandon in sensual colors in the much panned Zamaana Deewana (1995). The body chemistry in both films were at least attempts at conveying emotions. 

The Bollywood Archie-Betty-Veronica Version

Kiss vs Image
The making of the Shah Rukh Khan romantic, charming, good boy image began with Aditya Chopra's Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and found validation in Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). The closest Khan came to kissing was in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and by quite a distance in Asoka (2001). He is conveniently interrupted in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas (2002). 

Years after the ridiculous but cute image of two shivering flowers coming together in speculative communion meant sex was on, it was about timely disruptions now. In the new millennium, Bollywood was still conservative about mainstream actors kissing.

Like Helen was the only one supposed to dress down and do the Bollywood cabaret, for years only Emraan Hashmi seemed to have a Supreme Court permission to kiss prolifically onscreen, mostly picturized coarsely and provocatively. 'Serial Kisser' became a Hashmi tag and a played up lame joke on the actor himself in films like The Dirty Picture (2011) and Ungli (2014). 

The 'My Boyfriend is Watching' Kiss
Shah Rukh Khan finally did dare to kiss Katrina Kaif on screen in Yash Chopra's last directorial film Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012). These are strangely brief, reluctant millisecond smooch moments. It was as if Kaif's off-screen boyfriend was close by, with bloated eyeballs and a pair of XXL size censor scissors.

The Sane Bit in Jab Harry Met Sejal 
Shah Rukh Khan does go for a lengthy kiss in culminating Jab Harry Met Sejal's unbelievable premise with some sane sexual release. In a fluffy, soap lather romance it was already alien that lovers detested from making out, that the kiss was a big saving grace in the film's flimsy context. It took two and half decades to tweak a trademark Shah Rukh Khan template, even if mildly. It's a tiny dot of a dare in a safe, redundant movie that Jab Harry Met Sejal is.    

No comments:

Post a Comment