We’ve all heard of it. We’ve seen the photograph. But have we watched the film?

If we had indeed watched Karma (1933), we wouldn’t be talking about how taking kisses out of Indian cinema made no sense considering what had been shown in this bilingual film made as an Indo-German-British collaborative effort.

The story goes that actors Devika Rani and Himansu Rai – husband and wife in real life – were engaged in a four-minute kiss, supposedly the longest till date on the Indian screen. The truth, though, is quite different.

For, the prince played by Rai is almost dead – or even actually dead – from a snake-bite. And while Devika Rani does shower frantic kisses on him, he is quite inert and far from being a participant. Finally, she tries to breathe life into him, after which the film comes to an end.

And that’s all there was to it. Nothing steamy about it at all.

Perhaps a more interesting aspect of the film is that it features a song Devika Rani sings for her lover in English. Now that really was the first of its kind in Indian films.

Karma (1933).