The shooting of Shilpa Shetty's new film, Metro, came to an abrupt halt in Navi Mumbai (New Bombay) after some people, allegedly members of the Shiv Sena, went on a rampage on the sets.
The Sainiks were protesting against Richard Gere kissing the actress at an AIDS awareness programme in Delhi, and demanded an apology from Shilpa Shetty.
"The activists converged at the Vashi railway station where Metro was being shot and burnt an effigy of Shilpa and shouted slogans against her," Ramrao Wagh, police commissioner, Navi Mumbai, told PTI.
"The situation has been bought under control with some activists being detained," he added.
Several protests against the kiss were staged in Varanasi where Gere's effigies were burnt. Protesters claimed the incident was 'an attack on our cultural ethos.'
In Kanpur, protesters -- mostly students -- burnt effigies and demanded that Gere should leave the country immediately while demonstrators in Bhopal threatened to boycott Shilpa's forthcoming films.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also disapproved the act, saying it was not part of Indian culture. "Such a public display is not a part of Indian tradition," said party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
Meanwhile, Shilpa held an impromptu press conference and exclaimed that she was 'shocked' by the protests. "India has the second highest number of HIV patients in the world. Yet, we are talking about the kissing incident rather than the HIV cause. We should not waste national time on such trivial issues."
The actress refused to apologise for the incident. "Apology! For what? Did he kiss on my lips? Did he do my vastra haran? Have you never seen a man kiss a woman? Don't act stupid! I don't think anything wrong has happened to me. I am someone who lives with dignity," Shilpa said
The actress added that Gere had called her thrice to apologise for his act. She stated that he had kissed her to entertain the audiences -- there were 4,000 truckdrivers present.
"Richard cannot speak Hindi and that's why he did that dancing number in Bollywood style to keep those truckers entertained. I don't think anything wrong happened, so why should people ask me to apologise?" she asked.
"Our culture says, Atithi Deva Bhava (the guest is God) and I don't think it is right to treat our guest in such a manner," she continued. "I am proud of my culture. Moreover, Richard is someone who is trying to help HIV patients for the last nine years in India. This is not the way to behave with him. He believes in this cause and has given his support from time to time.
"We talk of India going into the 21st century and being progressive. Is this the way to behave?" she questioned. "What kind of reputation do you want to project by this act? These people don't do anything for HIV patients and when others do something, they protest. I feel it is a joke because people are politicising such a trivial issue."
With inputs from PTI