So what's this media-fueled controversy over the kiss between Hrithik and Aishwarya in Dhoom 2? I counted three light pecks to the lips, hardly the type of full-blown sloppy stuff that Roger Moore used to dole out in countless James Bond flicks watched by Indian audiences in the 80s.
Ah, it's Indians involved you say? Watching non-Indians do it is acceptable, but when it's one of us (ok two of us) doing it it changes the equation. After all hardly anyone watching Bond would go try it at home. But watching the two biggest stars in Bollywood doing it will now make everyone want to try it, right?
This seems to be reflected in the case filed where the kiss is said to be "immoral and promotes something alien to our culture". GIven that culture is a moving target (won't we all go to court to argue this in a system that is essentially borrowed from the west? wasn't there an outburst of Indian pride when we detonated a nuclear device in an escalating show of muscle with Pakistan - I don't remember reading about nuclear fission or fusion in any of our cultural texts), this then becomes an exercise in preserving our culture.
Unlike most everyone I've talked about this with, I don't think this controversy is insignificant and worth dismissing with a roll of urbanized eyes. There are interesting questions that get raised by this: what's more important to us? What is the type of nation Indians want to live in moving forward? What is moral that is worth protecting the most? What part of being Indian within us do we want to give up least? The answer will no doubt vary probably even from person to person. What is insignificant to me might be significant to others. On the other hand, I wonder what would would have happened if we had shown two of our biggest stars going at it in some wildly convoluted position - something right out of what's been etched in several Indian caves and caverns from ages past. Would that have been more culturally in line?