Gere, Shilpa accused of obscenity

Published April 19, 2007

NEW DELHI: Hollywood star Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty have landed in legal trouble after a light-hearted hug and kiss at an AIDS awareness event last weekend, a press report said.

Two formal complaints of obscenity were lodged after protesters in cities across the nation burned effigies of Gere, who showered Shetty with kisses.

One complaint accused the stars of committing “an obscene act” in a public place, while a second also targeted several private TV channels for showing videos of the embrace, accusing them of “indecent representation of women.” Obscenity is punishable by a maximum of two years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs2,000 ($45) in India.

A judge has asked Indian news channel NDTV, which broadcast the event, to produce a recording of the incident by April 25.

The kissing represented “all indecency and nudity which our society cannot tolerate,” said one of the complainants' lawyers.

Gere embraced the 31-year-old Shetty -- winner of Britain's Celebrity Big Brother reality show -- and kissed her several times on the cheek in front of 4,000 onlookers. The incident triggered a public storm in India, known for its chaste public behaviour despite Bollywood's sexually suggestive song and dance routines.—AFP

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