Art & Culture

Masaan’s kiss is just a kiss

Gayatri Jayaraman
Gayatri JayaramanJul 22, 2015 | 14:26

Masaan’s kiss is just a kiss

The kiss in Indian cinema is a thing. It’s an event. When it happens, you will know four months in advance by journalists who have sworn undying love to entire crews and who’d take a crowbar to prying the scoop out of cold lifeless hands. By the time you’ve seen it on screen, you’ve read accounts of with whom, for how long, what the spotboy said and did when it happened, and for how many days prior to said kiss, a certain actor gargled with south sea salt mixed with Japanese sea weed for optimum breath effect.

A kiss is not just given to anyone in a film. Two people in love cannot just kiss on screen until the entire build up of the film has justified the need for lip to meet lip. The tremble is handed out sparingly. The leading lady has always gotten permission from her beau of the mo. And when filmed, the camera pivots like the last horse on the carousel breaking free and somewhere I swear, I saw an aura and a halo.

So while the world would like us to believe that we have made progress since flower met flower under soaring blue Kashmiri sky, we haven’t. What we once avoided, we now exalt. We have imbued the kiss with so much sexual innuendo and pithy context that it is the film’s message in a bottle. If it’s an Anurag Kashyap film, kisses are rough and taken. If it’s a Yash Raj film, a stolen kiss is akin to betrothal or marriage itself. If it’s an Emraan Hashmi film, it must embody machismo. With Madhuri, it embodied oomph. With Vidya Balan, it must signify the risqué. With Aishwarya, Karisma and Kareena, a kiss needed to encase all the woman’s essential innocence being deflowered. Which is the same thing as not acknowledging that a kiss is just a kiss.

What Masaan does for Indian sex, let alone the kiss, is to offer no apology for it. Without giving away too much of the film.... Sex is. A kiss is. Awkwardness is. Men and women feel their way around their bodies and their inhibitions like most normal people who have fantasised a moment into their lives would do. The consequences are not consequences of character, and character is not a consequence of kissing or wanting to be kissed.

Finally, in Indian cinema, life goes on beyond that be-all end-all meeting point. Sure, sex, like life is complex. But there is more. Finally, an Indian film can start with the kiss, or throw it in somewhere in between, and move to the story beyond.

Last updated: January 02, 2016 | 11:07
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