To kiss or not to kiss on screen?

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 22 May 2020

To kiss or not to kiss on screen is the question that the filmmakers and actors will face in the wake of new guidelines issued for shooting post-lockdown.

A few days ago, filmmaker Shoojit Sircar posted his views on the shooting of  intimate scenes. Will filmmakers do away with the intimate scenes? How will they shoot? His post definitely made people ponder.

“How the cinema world conducts shooting intimate scenarios in the film to be seen and planned, after all this is over. Especially the intimate kissing/hugging scenes. How close or how far.. or cheat story telling in those intimate scenes for some time,” the director wrote on Instagram.




“Intimate scenes “

A post shared by Shoojit Sircar (@shoojitsircar) on


The conversation did not end there and actress Dia Mirza replied to the post saying, “Guru, the entire process of making a film is intimate! So many people all coming together to create moment after moment in unity and synchronised effort. Aap intimate scene ki baat kar rahe ho :) How will all that change? Will we be masked and gloved as a crew? Only time will tell.”

The harping of government authorities and medical experts on social distancing has brought about a change in the operation of many industries. But how will this affect the film industry, because intimate scenes are an integral part of storytelling? How would two people, who are in love, show their emotions on screen?

On the OTT platform, intimacy scenes (love making, kissing, hugging) is quite common and no one makes a hue and cry out of it either. Will we go back to shooting swaying flowers to show two people getting intimate? Or add a song?

Recently, representatives of various film divisions from around 20 countries including India, UK and the US had a virtual meeting to discuss the set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that will come into practise once shootings resume. Amit Behl, joint secretary and chairperson, CINTAA’s outreach committee, who has attended the meeting, says that unfortunately or fortunately, the level of intimate scenes in films, television and web series in India is less, compared to other countries. “In America, there are love making and direct kissing scenes. There are guidelines that have come in from America, South Africa for performers, which we have shared with all our stakeholders including the producers, broadcasters. One of the guidelines was for shooting intimate scenes. While shooting such scenes, a virologist and intimacy inspector has to be present. They will be appointed by the makers.” 

Doing away with intimate display of romance could be a reality for filmmakers, at least for the immediate future, says Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice-President, Films and Events, Saregama India. “Given that an array of hygiene restrictions will have to be put in force, this I think, would be the least of the issues. Keeping the health and safety in mind of the actors, support staff on the sets and others will be of paramount importance,” he says. 

Adding further on the issues of filming romance on celluloid, Siddharth adds that filmmakers are creative people and sooner or later, innovative way to depict intimacy will be found. “Everything depends on the story and what are its needs. Sooner than later, we can work around it. With special effects, advanced technology and clever camera work, I am sure that intimacy on screen will not be relegated to swaying flowers and swans necking it.”

With strict COVID-19 precautions staring straight in the face of the film industry, the actors too might be reluctant to shoot passionate scenes with co-actors, from a safety point of view.

Sharing similar thoughts, casting director Paragg Mehta, who has been associated with projects Betaal, Chopsticks, Rangbaaz, says that although this is least of their concerns, there is no denying that actors might not agree to shoot such scenes. “They might not want to shoot passionate scenes from the safety point of view. But we cannot say anything with surety till shooting begins. We are waiting for that,” he says. 

It is definitely true that the most pressing issue for the filmmakers in India right now is getting shooting back on track, the commencement of theatres for public and the release of the stream of films that are lying ready.

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