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Richard Gere cannot do anything obscene: Shilpa
Though taken aback by Hollywood star Richard Gere's public display of affection at an AIDS event in Delhi, Bollywood's much-in-the-news star Shilpa Shetty has stoutly defended him saying he is not capable of doing anything obscene.
"I wish the electronic media wouldn't play the clip over and over again. It's annoying and serves no purpose. There're so many larger issues. In fact, we were there to spread AIDS awareness among truckers," Shilpa told IANS in an interview.
"Richard has been doing this unconditionally. What does he have to gain from this? He keeps coming back to our country. He is such a gentleman. He is incapable of indecent behaviour. I know indecent behaviour when I see it."
Explaining her much-publicised hug, she said: "Earlier during the day during lunch we were teasing him about a dance step in 'Shall We Dance?' When he suddenly bent me down on stage he was doing that whole step from 'Shall We Dance?' I was as taken aback as the people who saw it. It was nothing but a joke and not pre-planned at all."
Hindu rightwing Shiv Sena members Monday burnt Gere and Shilpa's pictures. They even disrupted a press conference addressed by the actress in Mumbai.
As for the moralists accusing her of unbecoming conduct, Shilpa said: "It was just a kiss on my cheek! What's the big hue and cry about?"
There had been a similar uproar when many years ago Padmini Kolhapure had kissed Prince Charles.
"That was on the lips. This was on the cheek, for crying out loud! No one can question me about my values. I agree a posture like that in public is against our culture. But doesn't our culture say that a guest is like god? Was I supposed to snub Richard in a public place when what he was doing was just for fun? No! I think he's here for a great cause.
"I want to know what people who're burning Richard's effigy have done for our country. These kinds of controversies unnecessarily take away from the main issue. I can't believe this!"
She also says that by unnecessarily highlighting it people are putting her off.
"Frankly, I'm fed up of these controversies. Nothing shocks me any more. Honestly, I didn't know what was happening. What happened with Richard wasn't my fault. It was just meant to be fun. I don't think Richard intended to hurt anyone's sentiments. Richard is a Buddhist. He believes the Dalai Lama. He wears a 'tulsi mala' (basil beads). Why would he do anything to hurt our sentiments? Richard's intentions were not dubious.
"People are burning effigies of Richard. Poor guy! For such a trivial issue! How will it look in the international press? For nine years he has been toiling for the cause of AIDS. Do we know how much money he has been raising for the cause? It's sad people are being instigated against him.
"He belongs to another cultural zone. Richard meant no harm. I'm no prude. We were in the midst of 3,000 truckers somewhere outside Delhi, who didn't understand English. Richard was just trying to entertain an unresponsive audience."
Shilpa says she has formed a bond with him. "He wants me to be a part of his AIDS foundation."
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