I hate that myth. From two sides. First, people always think it means that characters don’t kiss. Characters totally kiss! And have sex and do all the normal things. It’s the actors who don’t. So we see the characters leaning in, but then rain obscures our view or whatever. The audience knows what happened, even without seeing it. Just like a “sex scene” in a movie doesn’t mean we explicitly see the actors having sex. We just see a bunch of sheets and know what happened. Oh, and also, actors totally kiss too. Anyway, this made up holiday gives me an excuse to post lots and lots of kissing videos, woo!
I just re-watched Mughal-E-Azam (yes, this will be the topic of tomorrows Classics post), and oh my goodness! Madhubali and Dilip’s characters TOTALLY kiss! And maybe do more. I don’t know, there’s a fountain, it’s romantic, passion could carry them away.
They “really” kissed in that film, as in, the characters actually kissed each other in the narrative, while the actors didn’t. But in other films, it’s the reverse. The actors actually kiss, but it’s all a fantasy, so the characters don’t. Like this, with Shashi and Zeenat and Raj Kapoor desperately trying to attract the young audience.
The joke is always that back in the day, instead of seeing a couple kiss, we would just see two flowers touch. I don’t think I have ever actually seen that in a film, I think it might just be a thing people say not a thing that really happens. But I’ve certainly seen a lot of films where we cut from the couple flirting and about to kiss to suddenly looking at flowers. Which is what Chasme Baddoor (the good one! The 1980s one!) is making fun of.
I really like that better, just avoiding the whole kiss thing entirely, than the songs that build the kiss up like it is the biggest thing EVER and then back off at the last minute.
Or they do kiss, but the characters have felt so innocent until then that it almost feels wrong, like watching two children kiss.
Now of course the most famous kiss in Hindi film history is the Raja Hindustani one. The super explicit and sexy one. Got to include that!
Somehow that one broke down the barriers, and kissing became, not exactly commonplace, but not groundbreaking any more. Which lead to this whole series of films in which kissing was, like, a practical joke? Something you would do if you were really mad, or to show someone up somehow. It was odd.
Almost ruined Hum-Tum for me. But then, Rani got him back in “Gore Gore”, so it all balanced out.
See, I like it better when kissing was still semi-taboo, and Rani got to be super sexy in her very first movie with a nice “obscured by rain” kiss.
Now, of course, kissing is just like “whatever” both for most actors, and for the characters. Which feels strangely inaccurate. Like, the characters are still often set up as “good girl planning to have an arranged marriage” and “bad boy who’s not so bad”. For those kind of characters, yeah, a lip-to-lip kiss is still a big deal! At least, it’s a big deal for her and if he is really a “bad boy who’s not so bad” it should be a big deal for him because it is a big deal for her. What I am saying is, Band Baaja Baarat drives me crazy because it goes all the way to having sex when really just a kiss would make a lot more sense for both characters at that moment. But noooooooooo, the Indian audience is “past” the whole kissing thing, so it has to be even more shocking.
(See? The kissing is lovely, very natural. But then they jump straight to sex? Really? And even if I buy that, it ruins the rest of the movie for me that he is so jerky afterwards. This was not a small thing dude! You BETTER propose! Or apologize for not proposing. Or somehow acknowledge that this was a BIG BIG deal!)
And now kissing is, like, how a film is promoted? Which is ridiculous, posters actually tauting the number of kisses in the film, like we are all going to be sitting there with calculators going “well, this film had 23 kisses, while the other one had 22, clearly it is superior!” And it reached the extreme edge of ridiculousness with Befikre. Which I really wish had turned out to be a meta-statement on how silly this all is, instead of buying into it in a sort of exhibitionist desperate for attention way. Oooo, casual sex and actors kissing onscreen! Watch me watch me!
Which isn’t to say there are no good kissing movies recently. I think the Jab We Met ending kiss was just about perfect. All kisses onscreen should be that realistic, romantic, and plot driven. And if you can’t do that, then yeah, just leave them out.