Taapsee Pannu apologises: 'Raghavendra Rao has been such an important part of my journey'
Taapsee Pannu, who shot to fame after acting opposite Bollywood's megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the super-hit movie Pink, subsequently followed by a stellar performance in the critically acclaimed Naam Shabana, is in the news these days as she has landed herself bang in the middle of a murky controversy.
Recently, in a candid chat with the comedy group East India Company (EIC) the actress spoke out against the inherently sexist portrayal of women in the film industry, pertaining specifically to the cinema of the South, where female actors are shown in a sensual light and are mostly meant to add to the 'eye-candy' quotient of a movie by default.
Used for purely ornamental purposes, Pannu felt that she is now in a position where she can call this act out. Her comments were obviously in hindsight.
Pannu ridiculed Telugu filmmaker K Raghavendra Rao (incidentally the man that was the sole reason behind her big break into the world of movies, having launched the actor in the Telugu movie Jhummandi Naadam in 2010) over his specific interest in exploring the navels of his heroines to make for a sensuous experience for moviegoers.
“If I knew about this in my research before I’d gone to the South I would’ve worked on my navel. I clearly didn’t. The first day, they started with a song itself. And they are shooting a song which is the obsession over midriff. The director who launched me is known to have the Midas touch in terms of launching actresses. He has launched Sridevi, Jayasudha at that point. So it was his 105th movie with me,” said Pannu according to a report by The Indian Express.
The actor was also taken aback when a coconut was thrown at her bare midriff (instead of the usual flowers and fruit that have been thrown at actor's like Sridevi in the past). Pannu failed to understand the sensuality of this act, according to the same Indian Express report.
Thereafter, her comments went viral with the upcoming actor receiving a lot of flak from Raghavendra Rao supporters and the general audience that enjoys southern cinema. People spoke out in anger, calling her 'ungrateful', a 'hypocrite' and a 'backstabber', having found her higher calling in Bollywood and forgetting her south roots.
This is the video that has been causing all the controversy
What is interesting however, is that before Pannu made the comments about the fixation that the film industry has in portraying their female actors in solely one light (sexual), the same panel of people, including Taapsee herself, made misguided rape jokes with regard to domestic help.
The supposedly 'witty' quip came after someone said that he is 'refused sex for three months' if he doesn't open the house door for the maid every morning to let her in.
"Sex with the maid?" one of the men that were a part of the video said, followed promptly with giving the man the notorious title of 'Shiney Ajuha', the Bollywood actor who was infamously accused of having assaulted his domestic help back in 2009.
This banter seemed to go down well with Pannu and the rest of the members of EIC and it evoked rich laughter from everyone present, including Pannu — who somehow couldn't see what was wrong with making jokes about a person who has been sexually exploited, especially one from the lower strata of society that hardly has any means to counteract the problem.
The actor has recently posted a video on her official Facebook page apologizing for the remarks that she made on the show, after she received major flak for her comments. Pannu is seen apologizing and saying it is not "in her upbringing" to have spoken badly about someone, and that the entire time she thought she was poking fun at herself.
Watch Taapsee's apology video here
With the same actor possessing such wildly different stances and reactions to female exploitation in its different forms, one wonders what Pannu's actual standpoint is.