“And if you like a girl that got a real big pair
let me hear you say, oh yeahh-ya”!
–“Tootin’ On The Hooters”: Doctor Dre & Ed Lover.
In the Album: ‘Back Up Off Me’
It all started around a week ago, when @TOIEntertain, Times of India’s Twitter account for movie news and gossip, posted a video of Padukone with the tweet – “ÖMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!”
What started as a risqué comment about the cleavage of a popular Bollywood actress, by a self-proclaimed and touted, “one of the largest media houses in the world with interests in print, TV, radio and online”, to a video and tweet posted in its online entertainment section has turned into a major controversy and created a flood of tweets and FB posts, over the last week and beyond.
Women organisations and women actors in general were aghast. They are saying that the particular media house has done it by creating an image of a popular and successful actress, just to make headlines out of nothing. They claim: In the 21st century, the respect an actress commands is not connected to a neckline or hemline!
The Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) has criticised the manner in which the media house has repeatedly pursued to justify itself against protests raised by the actress herself.
They have issued a strong statement: “The commodification and objectification of women are very serious issues. While the Mumbai film industry also needs to reflect on this, on the continued portrayal of women which is far from emancipatory, the media should not, under the garb of a libertarian understanding, portray women in a light which is actually regressive.“
The women activists are making it a point that, the media outlet, unexpectedly and adamantly went on to justify itself without offering an apology for having affronted the actor’s sensibilities in the first place!
“The question is not whether the female actor had not objected before or had also posed for revealing photographs earlier, but that she as a woman had a self-determining right to object to what she perceived as offensive”. They said.
Times Of India Defends Itself
Initially, ‘Times of India’ website offered a modest defence, saying that it was a ‘compliment’!
Later, the daily became attacking and came out with the allegation that, “Deepika kept silent over this video for one year and chose to raise a furore and suddenly felt ‘violated’ only during the release of her movie Finding Fanny.”
And in the most recent article, titled, “Dear Deepika, Our Point of View”, the ‘Times of India’ had tried in a very conspicuous way to defend itself of its act.
It claims that Deepika is a hypocrite in her defence, since she flaunts her body often outside of movies – on magazine covers, on calendar photoshoots in various dance shows etc., etc. This was the response to Deepika’s own replies that what she does on screen is not real. Its reel and that are the roles.
“Deepika, we accept your reel vs. real argument, but what about all the times, and there have been many, when you have flaunted your body off screen — while dancing on stage, posing for magazine covers, or doing photo ops at movie promotional functions? What ‘role’ do you play there? So why the hypocrisy?” The newspaper commented.
The newspaper somehow tried to make a point that they were perfectly entitled to zoom onto the female actor’s cleavage because she flaunted it on various occasions in real life too!
The newspaper also indicted Deepika of moral policing ! Made a howler too, by claiming the the intended pictures were not taken without her consent.
Is Deepika Fair with the Outburst?
Its pure common sense, that Deepika must not have indulgently given consent to shoot her cleavage from a top angle, as Times of India has claimed.
But the moot question is, does Deepika need a highly sensational ‘publicity stunt’ or the ‘cleavage controversy’ to promote herself or her films!
One can’t deny the fact that, Deepika had already given four back-to-back hits last year alone. And the all the films Race 2, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela were box office hits.
How many of her Bollywood colleagues have done that?
Though she is not for many years here in Bollywood, came from a different background and linguistic trait, she made her careermade her career remarkably successful. Is there any urgent requirement of any ‘cheap or cleavage’ publicity!
One can remember, the known Bollywood observer Shobhaa De has once harshy criticized the actress. In an interview with Karan Johar, after the release of Om Shanti Om, Shobhaa had called Deepika “Overrated and very average- looking.” She was also quoted as saying that any young girl from Brigade Road in Bangalore could give her a run for her money!
But look today. From her debut in 2006 with a Kannada film Aishwarya, directed by Indrajit Lankesh, she has come a long way, with so many superhit Bollywood films in her kitty.
Are people envious about Deepika?
Is Deepika to Blame?
Some have already expressed their guess that Deepika’s reaction is a “well timed stunt” to boost the collections of her just released film, Finding Fanny and at the same time to push the probabilities of her big Diwali extravaganza Happy New Year,co-starring Shah Rukh Khan!
We have heard such arguments earlier too. When Preity Zinta’s complaint of misconduct of her ex-boyfriend and Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia, was just labelled as a “fading star’s “publicity stunt”!
The matter of the fact is: Paparazzi clicked Deepika Padukone during the launch of the film Chennai Express, in a low necked dress. After almost a year, the particular shot taken from an unexpectedly top angle specially of a very visible cleavage, found its way into Times of India’s internet avatar, on Sunday, with a titillating caption: OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!
Deepika reacted promptly and sharply on twitter: “I am a woman and I have breasts and cleavage. You have a problem with that!”
By sheer curiosity, a random search on YouTube will yield results of a wide number of videos on the net showing revealing cleavages of Bollywood actresses that includes Deepika too. In fact, a similar or (more revealing?) video of Deepika was uploaded on You Tube in June this year…and had not drawn any controversy till date!
In March this year, Sunny Leone’s Chaar Botal Vodka item number has been objected by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). They asked the producers of Ragini MMS 2, to blur out the actress’s cleavage in the song which also features singer Yo Yo Honey Singh.
An informed source has however informed that one can still watch the unblurred version of the song online!
The same industry insider has also commented that, all known actresses these days are known to bare their cleavage and Sunny is being singled out due to her past!
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
In the Deepika episode, the show of solidarity for an associate is highly appreciable without any doubt.
But the same colleagues in the Film industry remain equally silent, when a lesser known artist or a fresher in the industry bring serious charges.
In 2004, Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar was accused of rape by an aspiring actress Preeti Jain. Preeti had alleged that Madhur had sex with her, in return of promise to launch her in one of his films. Madhur had strongly denied the allegations.
The Supreme Court quashed the case in 2012, after the complainant, Preeti Jain, told the apex court that she was not interested in pursuing the matter, over eight years after filing the case.
The question is not about the veracity of the allegation…which was decided years later, and there were rumours of conciliation, but the way the Bollywood community remained silent, or virtually criticised the small time actress was in the set pattern.
In 2005, a sting operation carried by a news channel caught Shakti Kapoor making sexual advances to a girl who was planted by the channel. Shakti Kapoor claimed that he was framed by the channel. The film fraternity remained almost silent.
In a similar sting operation by the news channel, Aman Verma, the then ‘Indian Idol’ host, was shown trying to get cozy with a female aspirant. Verma denied the casting couch allegations. But the was fact was that, a lot of celebrities from Bollywood, came out supporting Verma, before even any probe was conducted.
In 2009, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy also made an outrageous allegation in her blog that she almost run-away from the sexual advances of a producer who was out to cast her in his film. We never heard repercussions from the film industry then.
Deepika Padukone on the other hand is a mega star with a big fan following and a substantial social network presence.
She was able to get others in the fraternity rallied up behind her.
But it is arguable that the same folk have been as active and ardent, if something similar happened with a lesser mortal actress!
Once the controversy gathered momentum, Deepika Padukone’s industry colleagues and many notable movie personalities came out in her support, condemning the media house, and praising Padukone for her strong position. The group in social media, “I Stand With Deepika Padukone” started trending shortly after.
But, following the recent controversy, Deepika found support from an unexpected quarter, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)! The AAP head honcho and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in support of her.
Never to miss this opportunity, Kejriwal and his party have not only supported Deepika on Social Networking site, it also decided to take on the media in general, over the present controversy.
Kejriwal said, “Sab mile hue hain, Ji!” (are all in tandem…)
Arvind Kejriwal, in the fashion of a true crusader, had extorted: “They have all the time and resources to expose Deepika ji, Sonam ji, and Kareena ji but don’t want to expose Gadkari ji or Pawar ji. Well, this time, Deepika ji and I will expose their double standards. We will in graphic detail show how these media houses try to titillate readers. This is also a huge scam.”
‘Times of India’ and the folks beware!
What Is Cleavage Actually
Anatomically speaking, Cleavage is known as the intermammary cleft or thein termammary sulcus is the space between woman’s breasts, lying over the sternum.
And according to Fashion Pundits: In the popular fashion culture, it is often defined by garments with low necklines, such as evening gowns, ball gowns, lingerie, and swimwear that generally expose or highlight cleavage.
The Fashion Pundits also explain that in every culture, breasts are an important aspect of femininity and often the women explicably or inexplicably make the use of their cleavage to enhance their physical and sexual attractiveness and to improve their sense of femininity.
But even in the highly liberated Western and other societies, there are differences of opinion as to how much exposure of cleavage is allowable in public!
Obviously, the degree to which a woman may expose her cleavage depends on the relevant social and cultural framework. Though displaying cleavage can be permissible in many settings like fashion shows and glamour gatherings, it may be forbidden by dress codes in settings such as workplaces, churches, and the schools, where exposure of any part of female breasts may be considered highly inappropriate.
Cleavage As A Protest
The Ukrainian protest group ‘Femen’, has gained much press publicity by posing topless at their demonstrations. It says that when it comes to liberating women and promoting feminism, bearing of ones chest is a weapon.
The Femen leader, Inna Shevchenko makes it clear: “We are Femen. Our nakedness attacks the raw nerve of the historic conflict between women and ‘the system.’’
According to her, “A woman’s body has always been a tool in the hands of the patriarchy. It is used by the sex industry, the fashion industry, the advertising industry – it is always in the hands of men. We realized that it was time to give it back to its legal owners, the women, and give a new meaning to nudity.”
In her Facebook post named, “My Point of View”, Deepika has also expressed her anger: “In a time where women should be applauded for making headway in a male-dominated society, we blur the lines between REEL and REAL life and dilute all our efforts by making a one-year old back sliding piece of news a headline. Digging out an old article and headlining it “OMG: Deepika’s Cleavage Show!” to attract readers is using the power of influence to proliferate recessive thought”.
“It is not about breasts, penises, or any other body part being reported. It is a matter of context and how out-of-context the reportage is just to sell a headline. And more so during a time in dire need of an attitude shift towards women.”
To be frank, this sexualised and sensational image business is not entirely a product of the media. Quite often, they’re circulated by the very PR agencies employed by the actors themselves or the relevant film producers.
So no matter what they tweet, the industry is closely complicit in this ‘glamour’ and ‘oomph’ business. It purposefully highlights the female actors as sex objects. With a prime target to give both the female actors and their films enough publicity.
In an NDTV interview recently, when Barkha Dutt had asked Deepika Padukone about how the film industry “over-sexualises” women, Deepika somehow avoided to answer that question directly. She rather said, “I feel that as long as it justifies the film and the kind of role one is playing, then of course.”
In her film ‘Goliyon ki Raasleela – Ram-Leela’, for example she wore petite blouses that often bared her torso and made her cleavage visible too .To be sure , young Kutchi Gujarati women are generally not known for that kind of wardrobe.
Deepika tried to clarify: “I have no issue celebrating my body and I have never shied away from anything on-screen to portray a character.
“In fact my next character portrayed is a bar dancer (in ‘Happy New Year’) (sorry Farah (Khan) for the spoiler!)Who titillates men as a means to support her livelihood. My issue is you propagating the objectification of a REAL person, and not a character being played. Sure, dissect my characters if you wish – if it is of so much interest then discuss the character’s cup size and leg length if it is relevant to making the role convincing. All I am asking for is respect (us) as a woman off-screen.”
Let us see, whether the outrage post Cleavagegate transforms into any genuine change in the attitude and negotiation pattern of the industry with the establishment.
It would be interesting to see how the aggravated film fraternity shy away from many entertainments “advertorial” supplements of the related media organisation, to boost up their movies at the time of release!
Would many of those who felt elated that someone has ultimately resisted the repeated ‘nonsense’- which everybody there has actually been aware of for a while now- not participate or associate themselves with the much publicised Annual Awards function organised by an outfit associated with the media house, now in question!
Then there is this idea of Media-networking, where the media house gets into a deal with a movie entity- which involves the wider coverage of the particular filmmaker or film star’s movies , professional graph and also the personal life of the related in different areas of the media outfit , specially in the entertainment supplement of the outfit’s national publication.
The publication house makes a nice profit from the exercise and the film star gets big publicity, based on the publication’s diversified network and wider reach. And this a kind of bargain long practiced by the film industry here.
And last but not least, last year, when Katrina Kaif’s beach holiday pictures with Ranbir Kapoor, taken from a hidden camera, were splashed across the media, Deepika was not riled anyhow and just gave her ‘rival lady’ some standoffish public advice during a press conference.
“It has never happened to me. I believe if you are a celebrity or public figure… these things are bound to happen. And I don’t think you can accuse anybody of anything. If I am a public figure and if someone has captured me then I feel I should have been a little careful,” Deepika sermonised at that time.
So what happened, suddenly Deepika became so sensitive and riled about a not so seen Media mischief!
By: Deep Basu