Kissing and Nude Scenes In Films Debated in India
Kissing and Nude Scenes In Films Debated in India By SYDNEY H. SCHANBERG New York Times News Service NEW DELHI "I will die of shame if I have to appear nude or in a kissing scene," said Mousami Chatterjee, teenage movie actress. "It is a very sane beginning. I don't understand what is wrong in an action which is so natural and instinctive," said matinee idol Dev Anand. a single paragraph in the 335-page report of the Inquiry Committee on Film Censorship. "Allowing kissing and nudity in our films will not only jeopardize the character of our young people but also ruin the entire nation," wrote a man from New Delhi. "Those who contend that the depiction of a passionate kiss or nude human figure will corrupt public morality very much misunderstand things as they are," wrote a professor from Muzaf-farnager, "actually speaking, logical and relevant kissing and nudity will rather uplift, ennoble and elevate public morality." These comments offer a glimpse of the emotional national debate stirred by the recent recommendation of a g overnment-appointed committee that nudity and kissing on the lips now banned in Indian films be allowed under certain artistic conditions. The growing controversy argued almost daily in the letter columns of newspapers, in news statements, and in speeches before civic groups was touched off by but It reads: "If in telling the story, it is logical, relevant or necessary to depict a passionate kiss or a nude human figure, there should be no question of excluding the shot, provided the theme is handled with delicacy and feeling, aiming at aesthetic expression and avoiding all suggestion of prurience or lasciviousness. Our purpose is to permit greater scope to the serious-minded and sensitive creator of aesthetic films." India, second only to Japan in film production, has a government censorship system considered more severe than that in any other major film-producing nation. Although censorship existed under British rule (it was then directed largely a t cleansing from Western films any scenes that tended to disparge white women in the eyes of the Indians), it has become much stricter since independence in 1947. Kissing on the lips, allowed for a time in pre-independence days, is now strictly forbidden in Indian films, as is nudity a reflection of real life in India, where kissing in public is not only considered immoral but is against the law. Lip-kissing is allowed in Western films on the ground that Western customs differ, but such scenes and other episodes of passion are usually heavily trimmed. To get around the taboos, Indian producers and directors have adopted suggestive devices which include moony songs, erotic dances, giddy cnases ot nerome oy nero around sylvan glades, hand- noming, n e a v y breathing, wriggling, writhing and general nuzzling of the neck and bust (just so long as the nps ao not toucn). The chairman of the censorsiD inauirv committee. G.D. Khosla, says one reason for his recommendation was to do away with "the utterly crude, vulgar, sexy and totally irrevelant sequences wnicn are irequenny introduced with the sole aim of appealing to the prurient section or me audiences ana exploiting the medium for profit." Whatever ruling the Indian government makes on the Khosla report, it is bound to dissatisfy a lot of people, for the issue has created two hard blocs of opinion. Most actresses have come out violently against the report. "Who would like to see his daughters, sisters and wives being kissed and undressed on the screen?" asked Starlet Asha Parekh. But most actors favor it. "A very sane and healthy view," said Raj Kapoor.