Kissing scene in 'Raja Natwarlal' creates furore in Pakistan
A kiss is just a kiss, unless it is in the colourful world of Bollywood and it takes place between Pakistan's highest-paid female actor and an up-and-coming Indian screen star.
A scene in a new film, Raja Natwarlal, starring Pakistan's sweetheart Humaima Malick and actor Emraan Hashmi has caused a huge row in Malick's homeland, and is expected to be cut from the film before it is released there.
Raja Natwarlal is typical Bollywood fare, in which Malick plays a dancer in a bar who falls in love with a conman seeking to avenge the death of his partner in crime.
The "love" scene is steamier than usual and there is no doubt the film has benefited from all the media this has generated.
Kissing scenes have been only a recent phenomenon in Bollywood after the relaxation of strict censorship rules. Prior to that, stars were restricted to conveying passion through stares and the implied raunchiness of dance routines. However, in Pakistan there is still a stigma attached and many people have accused Malick of selling out her heritage.
In reply, she said the backlash was due largely to the fact that she was kissing an Indian man.
"Films in India do show intimacy through an occasional full-lipped kiss and I was very reluctant to share a kiss with my co-star," she said. "But the director explained how it doesn't cross the line between romance and sleaze. I had to trust my director.
"I did face some backlash and mostly it was because 'our' woman was involved in a kissing scene and it was considered worse because it was with a guy who was not Pakistani."
She added that women were judged more harshly than men.
"Local media and society has an obvious bias towards male actors and men in general and the morality standards are different for women. Sexism occurs all over, not just in Pakistan."