Indian Actress Shilpa Shetty Still Feeling Effects of Controversial Kiss with US Actor

Shilpa Shetty is still feeling the effects of her much-condemned kiss with fellow movie star Richard Gere.

Immigration authorities at Mumbai Airport briefly detained the Indian actress on September 26, saying she was still wanted for obscenity charges filed in the wake of her April 15 kiss.

Shetty's publicist Dale Bhagwagar said the 32-year-old actress was in tears after being stopped enroute to Berlin for the opening of the musical Miss Bollywood. Shetty plays the lead role. She was allowed to join her dance troupe after prolonged questioning. "I can understand something like this if I'd committed a criminal offense. But what was my offense, when I'm just an actor, going to perform a musical on foreign land," Bhagwagar quoted Shetty saying.

Gere embraced and kissed Shetty on the cheek during a public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi, sparking a nationwide outcry among conservative hard-line Hindus, who claimed the pair violated the country's strict anti-obscenity laws.

A regional court issued arrest warrants against Gere and barred Shetty from leaving the country. Bhagwagar said that while India's Supreme Court overturned the order, its ruling did not show up in the immigration department computer system.

Immigration officials at Mumbai's international airport could not be reached for comment, but Bhagwagar said Shetty's lawyers would take up the matter with authorities.

Shortly after the incident, Richard Gere apologized and returned to the United States. He said the controversy had been manufactured by a small hard-line political party. The 58-year-old actor is a frequent visitor to India, where he promotes health issues and the cause of Tibetan refugees, tens of thousands of whom live in India.

A star in India since 1993, Shilpa Shetty this year attracted international attention by winning the British reality TV series "Celebrity Big Brother." Shetty was at the center of an international racism controversy involving fellow contestants Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara, and Danielle Lloyd.