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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Gere kiss sparks India protests
Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty
Some demonstrators called Gere's embrace of Shetty "vulgar"
Actor Richard Gere has sparked protests in India after kissing Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty at an Aids awareness rally in New Delhi.

Demonstrators in Mumbai (Bombay) set light to effigies of the Hollywood star, while protesters in other cities shouted "death to Shilpa Shetty".

The protesters said Gere insulted Indian culture by kissing the hand and face of the Bollywood actress.

Public displays of affection and sex are still largely taboo in India.

Shetty downplayed the incident, saying "it was not so obscene".

"This was not such a big thing for people to over-react in such a manner," the actress told the Press Trust of India news agency.

"I understand people's sentiments, but I don't want a foreigner to take bad memories from here. I understand this is his culture, not ours," she added.

Swooped

Anjali Gopolan, head of Indian Aids prevention group the Naz Foundation, said: "I think he responded as an actor. He was playing to the gallery. I don't see anything bad."

The kissing scenes were regularly played on Indian TV, with some viewers commenting on Gere's actions, while Indian newspapers carried the picture on their front pages.

Shilpa Shetty
Indian star Shilpa Shetty won the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother

The Aids awareness rally focused on India's truck driving community, with Gere leading proceedings by shouting "no condom, no sex" in Hindi.

The crowd whooped with delight and whistled as the 58-year-old clasped Shetty and kissed her on the face several times.

After the actress recovered her balance, Gere offered her a gallant bow.

Protesters said his embrace of one of the country's leading ladies had been "vulgar" and demanded an apology from the film star.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Richard Gere kisses Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty



SEE ALSO
Gere performs for Pudding prize
25 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Actor Gere leads Aids fight at UN
24 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
The Shilpa show hits the Commons
07 Feb 07 |  UK Politics
Shetty wins Celebrity Big Brother
29 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Muted response to Shetty in India
29 Jan 07 |  South Asia

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