A Telugu entertainment journalist asked actor Siddhu if he counted the moles on Neha’s body, his co-star in the film, ‘Dj Tillu.’

Actor Neha Shetty posing in a denim jacket
Flix Controversy Thursday, February 03, 2022 - 13:57

Suresh Kondeti, an entertainment journalist, who is also a producer and distributor in the Telugu film industry is facing severe backlash for his vulgar question about a woman actor. Suresh runs an entertainment weekly magazine – Santosham. Speaking at the trailer launch of Dj Tillu on Wednesday, February 2, Suresh asked the male lead of the film, Siddhu Jonnalagadda, if he counted the number of moles on the body of his co-star, Neha Shetty, in real life, as suggested in the film’s trailer.

In the trailer, Siddhu asks Neha, ‘How many moles do you have?” She replies, 16. During the question and answer at the press conference on Wednesday, Suresh asked, “You have found out that the heroine has 16 moles on her body in the film. Have you tried to find out how many moles she has in real life?” However, maintaining his composure at the intrusive question, Siddhu declined to respond.

A clip of this embarrassing incident has gone viral, with many calling out the journalist for his lack of sensitivity and respect for a woman. Neha also registered her protest later in the evening. Strongly reacting to the incident on Twitter, Neha described it as an “unfortunate” event and said that the question reflects Suresh’s respect towards women. “This question was very unfortunate at the trailer launch today. But I must go on to add that it simply simplifies the respect he has for himself and for the women force around him at his workplace and at home (sic),” Neha tweeted.

But, Suresh justified his question, stating that his intention was “clean” and “no double meaning” was intended. “It's a romantic film and I asked a romantic question. My intention is very clean and [there is] no double meaning in that. Please don’t take me in the wrong way!” Suresh tweeted.

This is not the first time that entertainment journalists have behaved unprofessionally and disrespectfully towards women. 

Recently, during the promotions of Shyam Singha Roy, an interviewer from a popular Telugu news channel, while addressing actors Nani and Krithi Shetty, asked who was most comfortable among the two while filming intimate scenes. In the film, Nani and Krithi Shetty have a kissing scene. 

Sai Pallavi, who also is part of the film, interjected by saying the question itself must be making them more uncomfortable. “Everyone has signed on to do the film. They agreed to do it. A comfortable zone was created and the film was completed and will be delivered to the audience. These are the actors Nani and Krithi Shetty. When you ask them such questions, it’s obviously a bit weird and uncomfortable,” Sai Pallavi had said. 

In a recent interview to TNM, responding to this insensitive question, Krithi said that entertainment journalists need to be sensitised about the way they talk to female actors. 

“Reporters need to put themselves in our place and see if they would be comfortable if they were asked such questions. It was unnecessary and lacked understanding, which was a little disappointing,” Krithi said. “Even though we are actors, we are humans with emotions and it's not like we don't get hurt or feel anything when people say something that is disrespectful. Speaking on behalf of all the actors, sensitivity would be appreciated,” she added.

In yet another incident in November 2017, Abhishek Raaja, a popular Tamil film reviewer and interviewer, had told Andrea Jeremiah that he had fantasised about her like most men, as though it was a compliment. Instead of using the interview to speak to her about her profession and know more about her art, Abhishek said that he lusted for her and ogled her. He even said that he would love to see Andrea play the Wonder Woman character, adding that he was not imagining her in the tiny skirt. He was of course called out for it, forcing Fully Filmy, the YouTube channel to offer a clarification. Even so, the channel justified the interview under the garb of satire, but admitted that Abhishek was mirroring the thoughts of a majority of the male society.

The other common aspect of interviews with women actors is how inconspicuously the interviewers fish for a comment praising the male co-star which they would use in the thumbnails and captions to aggressively push their content. It is ironic that women actors are constantly placed in such a position where they're required to sing the praises of the men in the industry which is rampant with sexism and misogyny. Invariably, the headline for the interview becomes about the male co-star's humility, generosity, and hard work rather than the woman's own contribution to cinema.

During promotions, the women actors are also constantly asked to dance on stage to enthuse the crowd. Actor Rashmika Mandanna had to endure this throughout during the promotional tour of Pushpa: The Rise, where she was constantly asked to perform the signature step from ‘Sami’ song. And no surprises that the male actor, Allu Arjun, was spared from this. While women are used as props for entertainment at promotional events, other relevant questions pertaining to the film are reserved for the male actor.   

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