Asha Leo faces bum rap in UP
It's bottoms up for Asha Leo in Uttar Pradesh. Shiv Sena has taken strong exception to the model showing her naked back in this year's Kingfisher Calendar and wants the pictures treated as porn.
The wide media coverage for the glamour calendar brought out by India's leading beer manufacturer has clearly got the Sena's goat. The rightwing organisation, often in the news as a self-appointed guardian of morality, decided to take matters into its own hands after photographs shot by well-known lensman Atul Kasbekar were shown on a fashion channel and also appeared in print.
Launched in 2003 by United Breweries, the Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar is not available for sale and is presented every year to a select group of people only. Besides London-based Asha, this year's edition features leading Indian models Yana Gupta, Pia Trivedi and Sheetal Menon. Giving them company is Cindy Burbridge from Thailand.
Shot on location in South Africa, the girls are shown wearing swimsuits by a number of upcoming designers like Surily Goel, Namrata Joshipura, Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Ranna Gill. The Sena is particularly incensed at the March layout that has Anna sitting with her back turned to the camera. Clad in only a bikini bottom, she appears to be topless and has a string of seashells draped around her neck.
"Pictures like these are a shame upon our culture. Imagine what effect they will have when put up in colleges and hostels. It's sure to pollute the minds of our youngsters," fumes UP Shiv Sena chief and High Court lawyer Vijay Kumar Tewari.
Udai Pandey, vice-president of the Sena's state unit, is just as agitated. "It is a sad day when a company uses nudity to sell liquor," says Pandey.The Sena is not satisfied just venting its ire. Alleging that the Kingfisher Calendar portrays women indecently, the organisation wants police to treat the Kingfisher Calendar as pornographic material in case it is bought and sold in the market. Failing such action by the cops, Sena activists have threatened to make a bonfire out of copies of the calendar.
Uttar Pradesh's morality minders will be out in force on Valentine's Day too. Like every year, a decision has been taken to prohibit hotels and restaurants from holding special celebrations on February 14. So-called 'chimpanzee squads' of the Shiv Sena and the Hindu Jagran Manch will patrol parks and gardens to shoo lovers away.