Telugu actor Sri Reddy was detained by the Hyderabad police on Saturday after holding a semi-nude protest outside the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce. She resorted to the protest after making allegations of sexual exploitation against certain filmmakers without naming them.
The actor, who has been speaking about the ‘casting couch’ – a euphemism for sexual harassment - in Tollywood, shocked onlookers and the media by taking off her top and putting her arms across her chest.
Speaking to the media, Sri Reddy said, "So, if we come out (with the allegations), they call us prostitutes. I don't know about others. I don't speak about others. I have faced injustice. I have proof. They don't come out because they are afraid of the proof I have. I still say the Telugu film industry is my family. I can reject them if they deny me justice."
She went on to say, "All my parents' shame has gone. I have taken off all my clothes. No family will be happy with this. But I have removed all my clothes and I am standing on the road in front of so many men. But I am not thinking about my family. I am thinking about girls. From the beginning I have been saying this: you have to sleep, you have to sleep, you have to sleep. You have to prostitute, you have to prostitute, you have to prostitute. How many days? How long? We have to do naked video calls. We have to take photos of our breasts and private parts and send. Don't you elders feel ashamed to send messages like that? Heroes. Big stars. You fight on screen like big stars and you send messages like this. Don't we know how you are in person?"
She said her protest was also against the Movie Artists Association (MAA) for denying her membership despite acting in two films.
She was, however, soon escorted away from the area by police personnel after refusing to call off the protest. Sri Reddy also demanded that Telugu girls be given roles in Tollywood films, with 75% opportunities be reserved for local actors.
Questioning why ‘outsiders’ are chosen over local talent, Sri Reddy says, “For the past 10, 15 years, why are women coming from outside, from North India? Even side actors don’t come (from here). Even mother actors are not allowed to come. All of them are brought from outside. Do you only want sexual commitments? Do you not want talent? In those days, for Marocharitra, dark actors were taken as natural beauties. They could act and they wanted talent.”
A police officer told reporters that she could register a complaint but a naked protest was not allowed.
Sri Reddy alleged that many producers and directors demanded her nude photos and videos for a film role. She said they did not give her roles even after she obliged with the requests.
She alleged that the Telugu filmmakers seek sexual services which actors from Mumbai oblige, while Telugu actors are cheated despite succumbing to the 'casting couch'.
Slamming actor Rakul Preet Singh, Sri Reddy issued a warning saying, "When they get crores, why will they complain? They own gyms and restaurants. They have businesses. They have big buildings in Mumbai, why will they complain? They are comfortable here. They are given Benz, BMWs. Rakul Preet, one more time you insult us, I will break your teeth, throw you on the floor and kick you. I am telling you. Not just you. Anyone who comments on the Telugu people. I will break your all your teeth. You have to go back to Mumbai."
Rakul had at an earlier press meet stated that she never faced any harassment from the Telugu film industry. She made the statement while condemning the vulgar remarks of a TV anchor, who during a live debate asked, “Aren’t there whores and brokers in the industry?”
She also demanded the formation of a Movie Artists Association exclusively for women, “There is no grievance redressal committee in the present association. Who should we complain to about sexual harassment, there are no women members in the association.”
Besides, giving interviews to several news channels, Sri Reddy also wrote several posts on her official Facebook page alleging unfair treatment to Telugu actors, and the problem of casting couch and sexual exploitation, without naming the perpetrators.
She had threatened to reveal the names of the sexual predators in the industry, but didn’t.
Recently, director Sekhar Kammula of Leader and Happy Days threatened legal action against the Sri Reddy for her veiled threats.
In a series of tweets, Sekhar pleaded innocent to her accusations.
"People who know me and my work would be aware of the kind of importance I give to equality of women and their empowerment. I live by my CHARACTER and die by it. I will not spare anyone who tries to point fingers at it. APOLOGIZE and take back every word that was posted against me or be ready to face legal action, which will include criminal/civil proceedings," he wrote.
With IANS inputs