A court in Jaipur, India, has ordered the arrest of Richard Gere for kissing actress Shilpa Shetty at an event in New Delhi that was intended to promote AIDS awareness. Mostly, it has ended up promoting the facts that India has goofy obscenity laws and that a lawyer somewhere in Jaipur has time on his hands.
Gere’s embrace and kiss of Shetty on the cheek (of her face) may have been disturbingly odd, but there was nothing “obscene” about it, at least by American standards. But protests broke out almost immediately after the scene became public. Groups of men, described as being mostly “Hindu vigilante groups,” burned Gere and Shetty in effigy, because people will pay attention to you if you set things on fire. A number of complaints were also filed, and one of these led to the order by a judge in Jaipur, who apparently found Gere guilty of violating public obscenity laws based on a videotape of the event.
Shetty said the kiss may have gone a “little overboard” but that it was not obscene and the protests were not helping India’s image. She claimed that Gere was only re-enacting his moves from a movie Gere has apparently starred in called “Shall We Dance.” According to the report, Shetty said that Gere was just trying to entertain the audience and to “communicate in a Bollywood style as he did not speak Hindi.”
Gere could be fined for the kiss or could be sentenced to up to three months in jail, if he is successfully arrested. Gere did not stick around after his public cheek-raping of Shetty, but the warrant may put a damper on his apparently frequent trips to India to meet with the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile there. The Lama, who could probably use a little Gere-free time anyway, could not be reached for comment.