My mother loved the Tuff ad: Milind Soman

Updated on Apr 14, 2005 09:16 PM IST

Model Sharan Mishra says even gods expose in India. She's not too far off the mark. Few know Milind Soman modelled nude before he was deified on ramp. Milind achieved notoriety for posing naked with Madhu Sapre in an ad in July 1995.

HT Image
HT Image
PTI | ByMeenakshi Sinha, Mumbai

Model Sharan Mishra says even the gods expose in India. She may not be too far off the mark. Few know that Milind Soman once dabbled in nude modelling before he was deified on the ramp.

Although Milind achieved notoriety for posing stark naked with model and then partner Madhu Sapre in a Tuff shoe ad in July 1995, that certainly wasn't the first time he had taken his clothes off in front of the camera. "I have personally been a nude model earlier and have featured in leading papers and magazines on a regular basis. I consider it the most refined form of art when done aesthetically," says the man who knew little competition when he was strutting his stuff for well over a decade.

Known for his chiselled good looks, Milind is brutally frank on the subject of nudity. "It is the most normal thing about an individual. It is what you are under your clothes and I don't see why so much hue and cry is made about it. I believe that if something is presented aesthetically, then it always turns out beautiful. That applies to nudity too - be it in advertising, films, paintings or fashion," he says.

With such an uncomplicated attitude towards the naked body, it is perhaps understandable why Milind didn't anticipate the furore that the Tuff ad would create. The campaign was launched on July 23, 1995 and showed Milind and Madhu wrapped around each other and only a strategically placed python wrapped around them. The ad ran into trouble almost immediately. While the ad agency cried hoarse about its creative rights, there were many who were up in arms at the couple's audacity.

Posters and hoardings of the ad were pulled down. The Shiv Sena was at the forefront of the protest that eventually led to a court ban on the campaign. The charge - outraging public modesty.

The supermodel-turned-actor admits he had never imagined such a severe backlash. According to him: "I don't think of the consequences when I accept any professional assignment. Frankly I did not expect a reaction like this. I was only doing my job. I was convinced about the concept and that is why I agreed to shoot for the ad. Besides, both the photographer and the agency involved were some of the best-known names in the country. Since the matter is still subjudice, I won't like to comment on it further. However I can say this much that my mother loved it and so did the people who matter to me."

Milind, who will turn 40 this year, says he has little time for politicians and their scruples. "I don't know what role politicians get to play in all this. I personally feel they have no moral ground to judge creative things or anything else for that matter," he insists.

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