Chalapathi Rao's comment is not the first such comment to come from Tollywood.

Telugu actors misogyny shouldnt surprise us 4 lessons from Tollywoods pastFile photo: Facebook/Chalapathi Rao
Flix Sexism Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 16:25

A police complaint was registered against veteran Telugu actor Chalapathi Rao on Tuesday after a video of his derogatory comments on women, went viral on social media.

The actor has been facing a severe backlash after his comments, made at the audio launch of Nagarjuna's son Naga Chaitanya's forthcoming Telugu film Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Two anchors of the programme went around to the VIPs, seeking their opinion if 'girls are a disturbance to mental peace', which is the tagline of the movie.

The actor in his response said, "What can I say if you ask like that? Women are not disturbance to peace. But, are useful to sleep with."

Taking to Facebook, Rao tendered an 'apology' of sorts, asking people not to take 'double-meaning' from his statement.

However, he made matters worse by defending his statement later saying, "There is nothing wrong in my comment. I said that girls are not dangerous. Snakes are dangerous, but do we keep them beside us on our bed? Likewise, I meant that girls are not dangerous, as they sleep beside us on the bed."

He also pointed out the hypocrisy, that not one male or female actor at the event, condemned the question, which itself was insulting to women. 

However, while everyone condemns Rao's statement, this is neither the first nor the last such statement to come out from someone in Tollywood, known for its prevailing misogyny.

1. It was in March last year, that a police complaint was lodged against actor-politician Nandamuri Balakrishna under similar circumstances.

“If I play eve-teasing roles, and just follow girls, my fans will not accept. Either a kiss should be given or they should be made pregnant. That’s all. We have to commit ourselves,” Balakrishna said at a public event.

He also went on to add, “I too act naughty with the actresses... I pinch them sometimes.”

This was followed by a similar apology, where the actor said that he had “utmost respect towards women."

Read: Why Balakrishna and fans can't be allowed to think "pinching" women is cool

2. It was the same month, that another crass incident happened at the audio launch function of Edo Rakam Ado Rakam.

When one of the film's female leads, Sonarika, asked the dialogue writer Diamond Ratnam, why he had 'diamond' in his name, the latter responded with “I will tell you if you give me a hug".

Even the film's director Nageswara Reddy asked the actor for a hug, and so did Raj Tharun, another lead actor in the film.

However, veteran actor Mohan Babu, who was also present at the event, did not stay a silent spectator. 

“This is very cheap. How can a director ask an actress for a hug in a public gathering, and also when the event is shown live,” he asked, once he got the mike.

“When you are speaking, use your common sense. The actress is good and thus hugged the director and writer. If the actress was from our times, the reaction would have been different and she would have slapped,” he was quoted as saying.

The others reacted with a sheepish smile and a nod, saying that they would not repeat it.

3. In 2015, Telugu comedian Ali perhaps made some of the most cringing comments, again at a public event, when he compared actor Anushka to a "hot jalebi" with "extraordinary thighs" and said, "Anushka looks like a hot Jalebi who everybody likes to eat."

The comedian also said, "Anushka has really remarkable thighs. Ever since I saw her in Billa (where Anushka appeared in a bikini), I became her fan.”

The comedian faced a massive backlash, following which he tendered multiple apologies, and said that he did not mean to offend anyone.

He had also reportedly compared actor Samantha's 'midriff to Vijayawada's Benz circle'

Read: Ali's apology: Is Telugu pop culture finally ready to introspect on misogyny?

4. Even the younger generation of actors from the film industry do not seem to be sensitised enough, as was shown in the case of actor Nani, during the launch of the film, Supreme, which starred Sai Dharam Teja and Raashi Khanna.

Nani took the stage, where he told Raashi that she was looking beautiful before adding, "When the 'Supreme' song was playing on stage, there were two times when I wanted to whistle. One was because it was Chiranjeevi sir's song, and the other time because your navel was seen."

Despite facing backlash for the comment, Nani seemingly seemed unfazed as he went on to reiterate during the trailer launch of Raashi's film, Hyper, "Raashi, you look beautiful and I can't say more as it will not sound good. I used the word 'beautiful' because it is neat and classy, but everyone here knows just how beautiful you are."


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