Aishwarya Rai (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
She is considered the most beautiful woman in the world, yet Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai only got her first on-screen kiss at 32.
The 39-year-old "Pink Panther 2" star, who won Miss World in 1994 and has appeared in almost 40 Bollywood features, experienced her first cinematic smooch in 2006 in "Dhoom 2" with lucky actor Hrithik Roshan.
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In the film, Roshan plays Mr. A, a sky-diving jewel thief, and Rai plays his impersonator, a woman who happens to be a spy for the cops. After they begin working together, their relationship takes a romantic turn, but when Mr. A discovers her real identity, he forces her to play a game of Russian roulette. Of course, this is Bollywood, so it ends with them expressing their love for each other, crowned by the now-infamous kiss.
In a new interview with Al Jazeera, Rai said that after the film came out, she got "legal notices" from Indian citizens who wrote things like, "You are iconic, you're an example to our girls you have led your life in such an exemplary manner, they're not comfortable with you doing this on screen so why did you?"
"I was like, 'Wow, I'm just an actor, doing my job, and here I am being asked to offer an explanation for a couple of seconds in a two, three hour piece of cinema,'" Rai said, according to the Daily Mail.
Around the time Rai appeared in one of her first English-language films, the hit UK musical "Bride and Prejudice" in 2004, she became a hot commodity and Hollywood came knocking. But she wasn't answering for just anyone, not even Brad Pitt --she turned down the chance to star in "Troy" because it "involved a lot of lovemaking scenes that I wasn't comfortable with."
Even though Rai felt "quite convinced" that her audience wouldn't welcome a lip-lock from their favourite actress, she decided to try it first in a Bollywood film to "see if all my doubts are true, and they were.'
According to The Hindu newspaper, a case was filed against Rai and Roshan at the end of 2006 over the "obscene sequence."
"The complainant has alleged that women felt offended after watching the scene and it promoted vulgarity in society, especially among the youth," the report read. But the case was reportedly eventually thrown out of court.
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According to Rai, it's not only her fans who don't want to see her kissing on screen, it's just that "public display is not that common in Indian culture." Instead, Bollywood uses song and dance to express passion.
"What the kiss is in the western movies is what our songs do, and that's where our audience experiences all the emotions that the western audience does when their actors kiss," she said.
Talk about a song and dance.