Features Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 05:30
  How in the world is it entertaining if a man slaps his 60-year-old domestic help because the old man is annoying, or if a man is trying to rape a woman? By asking these questions of Telugu filmmakers and fans, an avid movie-goer has made sexism and misogyny in Telugu films a subject of intense debate. Annapurna Sunkara, a post-graduate in Human Resources management, uploaded a 12-minute video asking simple but profound questions about what passes off as entertainment in India, not just in Telugu films and why is it that people laugh along. Uploaded on July 24, the video has gone viral and has attracted massive response on social media with people arguing for and against Annapurna’s views. Born and brought-up in Khammam in Telangana, Annapurna starts her video asking why a gifted filmmaker like SS Rajamouli cannot make a movie without insulting women.  She goes on to describe sexist, derogatory scenes enacted by Tollywood giants like Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Brahmanandam and comedian Ali in various movies. In fact, she describes comedian Ali as a pest and a “pervert” who belongs in jail for some remarks he made about an actress. Several times in the short video she acknowledges that she too, once accepted such portrayals unquestioningly and uncritically. What prompted her to make the video was an article she read on the elaborate love scene between Prabhas and Tamannah Bhatia in the runaway hit Bahubali.  In the article, journalist Anna Vetticad describes a song featuring the protagonists as ‘The rape of Avanthika.’ Annapurna says that she was speaking about sexism in the Telugu film industry because she watched five Telugu films for every film in any other language. Even though she loves Telugu cinema, she fails to understand why it is so sexist, and also wonders how its sense of humour is so focused on “ridiculing and insulting someone”. Many people have responded with their own videos countering the questions she has raised. YouTube user Vishwanath uploaded a video countering Annapurna. His take was that movies are meant for entertainment and should not be treated as reality. If a sexist act was to happen in real life, people will react, but a movie was not to be taken seriously, he said. But that is precisely the point Annapurna makes in the video, that if it is not acceptable in real life, why is ok in reel life? “I think a movie should have a minimum social responsibility. So, I responded to him because I thought he might understand,” Annapurna told The News Minute by email from Baltimore where she now lives. Annapurna believes many fans are blind in their faith for actors and won’t tolerate any criticism. "Movies influence people to a level where they say they would die for heroes. People are in complete denial and refuse to face reality, especially when it includes keywords like Indian Culture, Cricket and Cinema." "I see stories everyday where women are being treated unfair across the globe, and movies projecting the same as entertainment, is not okay," Annapurna adds. She points out that in spite of the criticism, a lot of support also came from Tollywood. “Artists like Kamal Kamaraju, Pragathi, Sana, critics like Mahesh Kathi, comedians and few film-makers like Sasikiran Narayana supported me as the issue I raised is real and we need change,” she adds.  Even regular people have stood by her. “Negativity always has a louder voice. I received a message from an advocate, a mother of two, letting me know that she appreciates my effort. I have got many similar messages in my inbox. I do try reasoning with the people who have slammed me.” And though scores of fans are upset, Annapurna says she stands by her video. “I don't really care if people have a problem with it. Many of them think that I am doing this for grabbing attention, all I’m saying is that movies should be more socially responsible,” she adds. Watch her video here.   Tollywood, respect women !P.S: Telugu version (http://youtu.be/tKuH29FrSvQ) #StopAli Posted by Annapurna Sunkara on Friday, July 24, 2015  
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