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Ram Gopal Varma supports Sri Reddy, calls her Rani Laxmi Bai

In a series on Facebook posts, Ram Gopal Varma threw his weight behind Sri Reddy and praised her for her courage to put up a fight against sexual exploitation and harassment in the Telugu film industry.

regional movies Updated: Apr 13, 2018 10:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ram Gopal Varma,Sri Reddy,Rani Laxmi Bai
Sri Reddy on Saturday held a nude protest in Hyderabad against sexual exploitation in the Telugu film industry.(HT Photo)

Trust the maverick filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma to come out in support of Telugu actor Sri Reddy. Barring Kangana Ranaut, very few voices from the Indian film fraternity have said anything on the ongoing fight by Sri Reddy with the Telugu film industry over the issue of sexual exploitation and harassment.

In a series on Facebook posts, Varma threw his weight behind the actor, praising her for her courage to take on the issue of sexual exploitation. Varma even compared Reddy to the legendary queen who died fighting the British, Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi.

Varma began by stating how casting couch has existed in the film industry for close to a 100 years. He wrote: “Casting couch existed ever since the advent of Cinema a 100 years back ..Not getting into individual allegations Sri Reddy has drawn more attention to the evils of Casting Couch than anyone in the last 100 years and I salute her for that.”

He added how Sri Reddy’s nude protest was a wake up call to national and international communities. “Those who thought Sri Reddy was wrong in stripping can’t deny, It’s only that shock which woke up both national and international communities. Sri Reddy’s mother should be proud of what her daughter achieved for film industry in general and aspiring actresses in particular.”

He then compared her to the legendary queen of Jhansi, stating how Rani Laxmi Bai used her sword to fight for her kingdom while Sri Reddy had used her body to take on ‘maledom’ as he put it.

“To historically compare the victory of Sri Reddy ...Jhansi Lakshmi Bai used her sword as a weapon to fight for her kingdom and Sri Lakshmi Bai used her own body as a weapon to fight the Maledom in the film industry.”

Telugu actor Sri Reddy, in a dramatic move, stripped on the street to protest sexual exploitation and harassment in Telugu film industry. The move grabbed national and international attention, leading to an outcry. The Movie Artists’ Association refused to grant a membership to her after the protest and said it would bar any of its 900 registered members from featuring/acting with her. Refusing to back down, the actor had accused prominent people from the industry, including producer Suresh Babu’s son Abhiram, of taking advantage of her.

In this context, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had issued a notice to both Information and Broadcasting ministry and the Telangana government, calling for detailed reports on the alleged sexual exploitation of women in Tollywood.

The commission said that the reported ban on Sri Reddy and warning others from working with her are violation of her right to livelihood and live a life with dignity.

Post the commission’s intervention, the Telugu film industry decided to revoke the ban on Sri Reddy and also agreed to set up a Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH).

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First Published: Apr 13, 2018 10:37 IST