Richard Gere's public show of affection for Indian actress and reality TV star Shilpa Shetty has turned the actor into public enemy number one in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Varanasi and New Delhi. The Pretty Woman star swept the popular Bollywood actress into his arms and kissed her several times during an AIDS-awareness event at the weekend (15Apr07). The action has outraged Indians, who feel Gere went too far in a country where such public displays of affection are largely taboo. Angry crowds burned effigies of Gere during demonstrations this morning (16Apr07) after photographs of him embracing and kissing Shetty appeared on the front pages of India's leading national newspapers. Gere and Shetty, who recently won the UK's Celebrity Big Brother TV contest, joined forces in New Delhi at a press conference to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic among India's truck drivers. In front of a cheering crowd, Gere kissed the giggling Shetty on the hand, then kissed her on both cheeks. An embarrassed Shetty pulled back after the embrace and told Gere, "This is a bit too much." Speaking out about the incident this morning, the actress insists leading Hindus are making too much of a harmless mistake. She says, "I understand this is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such manner. "I understand people's sentiments, but I don't want a foreigner to take bad memories from here."