Bhandarkar drops gay kissing scene

Oct 24, 2008 Subhash K Jha

Mumbai, Oct 25 (IANS) Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has dropped a gay kissing scene between actors Samir Soni and Anil Kumar from his forthcoming film "Fashion" before it went to the censor board. He, however, plans to restore it on DVD.

"What a beautifully-shot scene of intimacy it is between Samir and Anil. You forget their gender. They're just two people in love expressing their feelings," Bhandarkar told IANS.

"I took it out before taking it to the censor board. I thought portraying a homosexual couple was bold enough. The kiss would have been too much. But now I'm planning to restore it on the DVD," the director said.

The film, which also stars Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Mugdha Godse and Arjan Bajwa, is releasing Oct 29.

Samir, best remembered as Amitabh Bachchan's ungrateful son in "Baghban", says he didn't face any nervousness or inhibition while doing it.

"Anil was more nervous than I could ever be. I wasn't nervous or anxious at all. Why should I be? I think too much hoo-ha is made in our country about sexual orientation. Isn't there enough violence and unrest being created against minority groups on the basis of religion? Do we need to get all heated up about what two grown-up men do in privacy?" he asked.

The gay kiss in "Fashion" happens in the car.

"It's a very natural moment between two people in love. And I didn't have a moment's hesitation in doing it. Why should I? I don't have a girlfriend to be answerable to. I did think, 'Oh my god, what will my parents say?' But it's not me, it's my character kissing the person he loves.

"More than me it was Anil who was trembling in fear. I told him to chill as I was like his elder brother. I knew with Madhur at the helm it would be aesthetic. Did I feel repelled? No, I was okay," Samir said.

Tell him that many Indian actors have a problem playing gay and Samir shrugged: "See, I feel those who are homophobic would recoil from doing a gay role. But I'm extremely confident of my sexuality and had no qualms about playing gay. From my modelling days I've had gay friends who would discuss their boyfriends with me. So I'm very comfortable with homosexuality.

"I think we need to get over our prudery about these things. And archaic laws are only making things worse for gay people. They're either hiding or defiantly flaunting their homosexuality in their clothes and body language," the actor said.

Samir is all for scrapping outdated laws on homosexuality.

"I'm not very qualified to speak on the current controversy over the constitutional rights of homosexuals. But I do know every individual has the right to choose whom he or she wants to be with. I'm heterosexual. But I respect my gay friends and their right to live life the way they want. Playing a homosexual in 'Fashion', I realised love has no gender."

Canada-based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta's "Fire" (1998) was perhaps the first mainstream Hindi film to show gay kissing - Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das kissed under the mosquito net in the controversial movie.

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