Statements

Statement condemning the derogatory comments of Chalapathi Rao, Telugu actor, against women at a public film event in Hyderabad

At the audio release function of a Telugu film (which shall remain unnamed as we do not want to provide free publicity to the film through this controversy), an anchor asked several celebrities in the audience if “women were harmful (haanikaarak)”, which happens to be the tagline of the film. When she asked the question to ChalapathiRao, he said, “No, they are useful in bed.” The woman anchor was taken aback but the male anchor on stage, Ravi, said appreciatively, “What a super answer!” The function was held on Sunday, May 21, 2017 in Hyderabad.

However, the anchor Ravi is now claiming that the audio in the auditorium was poor and he could not clearly hear what was said but routinely said “Super answer.”

ChalapathiRao is a repeat offender in this kind of sexist behaviour. In an earlier television interview with Radhakrishna on ABN-Andhra Jyothi channel, he vulgarly claimed that he raped many women. At that time too, when he was cornered, he wiggled out of it by saying that he was referring to rapes in films.

Women activists have registered a police complaint against ChalapathiRao. They have also demanded an apology from him. In his appearances on Telugu television channels to apologise, ChalapatiRao has attempted to counter-attack those who are protesting and also tried to preach to them that their minds read only double meaning and innuendo and he has said nothing wrong. While defending himself, ChalapatiRao claimed that those who are attacking him are fed on double-meaning Telugu reality shows on TV and that is the reason for their misinterpretation of his statement.

The Telugu entertainment industry, TV and films, is stagnating and in its putrefying imagination has been peddling obscenity, vulgarity and misogyny as entertainment. Reality shows like Jabardast, BathukuJatkaBandi, Ali Talkies, and some other reality shows have been routinely attracting criticism and opprobrium from the public for peddling derogatory content that reflects poorly on women. The daily exposure to such programming prepares the ground for violence against women and normalises it.

In an earlier audio release function, actor Balakrishna claimed that his fans would not accept him unless he kisses and gets his heroines pregnant. He said this in the presence of the heroine of his film on stage. At that time too an attempt was made to file a police complaint whose fate remains unknown.

The popular figures of the Telugu entertainment industry speak about women in language that is steeped in rape culture and the blatant manner in which they do this is alarming. In a country where brutal rapes are occurring every day with very little accountability despite the laws, the entertainment industry is leading a multi-pronged attack on the safety of women, first through the content of their films and television programmes, and secondly through the so-called promotional events which are live, unrestrained, and garner ratings for the channels.

The Network for Women in Media India (NWMI) strongly condemns this blatant rape culture in the entertainment industry. We demand that strict action be taken against those indulging in verbal normalization of/abetment to rape in the name of entertainment.

The police administration must firstly allow complaints to be booked; and secondly facilitate appropriate legal processes. We request that the right-minded people of the industry educate their colleagues about the difference in rape culture and entertainment.

Without both the legal remedies and strong community pressure, it is difficult to drive sense into people who are repeat offenders, especially when they think it is profitable.

NWMI Hyderabad Chapter     May 23, 2017

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