Mumbai: A hole has been dug deep enough to accommodate one of the world’s “largest media houses” as it continues its bizarre rant against actress Deepika Padukone.
On Monday, the Times of India — in a front-page story in Mumbai — published its “point of view” on the “cleavage row” that hit headlines recently.
It accused Padukone of “hypocrisy” and claimed she was using the issue for publicity (timed with the release of Finding Fanny).
The TOI justification was in response to Padukone’s Facebook post in which she said it is her “job to portray whatever character” she chose to play convincingly.
“A character may demand that I be clothed from head to toe or be completely naked, and it will be my choice as an actor whether or not I take either. Understand that this is a ROLE and not REAL, and it is my job to portray whatever character I choose to play convincingly,” she had written on her social media page.
She added that she had “little interest to take this (issue) further fearing it might get more attention than it deserves”.
But the news daily simply refuses to apologise and instead, questioned the star’s motives. “We accept your reel vs real argument, but what about all the times, and there have been many, when you have flaunted your body off screen — while dancing on stage, posing for magazine covers, or doing photo ops at movie promotional functions?” it asks.
“What ‘role’ do you play there? So why the hypocrisy?” it asks. The daily then goes on to ask why Deepika has ignored dozens of cleavage photos over the years and wonders why she picked the recent image published by the daily.
The justification even asks why she has been talking about the issue in other media.
“You have chosen to re-tweet every message and given as many interviews as you could. This has obviously been great publicity, timed perfectly with the release of your new film, why object now?” it asks. And, in perhaps the most disgusting tactics used to ever present a point of view, the daily published shots of the actress from prior magazine shoots and events, while asking readers why a girl who “began her career as a calendar girl for a liquor brand” was kicking up a storm over a cleavage shot”.
Stunned commentators and readers are fuming and are wondering why the daily — which was until two weeks ago still writing about women empowerment — continues to ignore the fact that Deepika’s objection came after the paper posted the image on its website and that she clearly had problems with the crass headline — ‘OMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show’.
“While apologising one should not act smart, as it always backfires. That is clearly what is happening in this case. An unconditional apology is the need of the hour and one should move on. This whole issue just brings forth the dichotomy in the marketing strategy of the so-called ‘leading newspaper of India’,” says Anuja Chauhan, author of The Zoya Factor.
She adds, “One has always seen the two very different faces of the newspaper — one that is always wrapped up in advertisements and the bulk of supplements that it circulates. How can it afford to do such a thing? Such an issue only jeopardises the brand value of the newspaper and comes across as something very schizophrenic.”
Actress Kalki Koechlin too is surprised by the developments. “It is difficult for me to even contemplate the unfairness of the situation. The way the publication has lashed out at the actress…despite being at fault is really pathetic,” she said.
Hrithik Roshan too, meanwhile, feels the situation is pathetic. “I speak for myself. I don’t think it is right how the media is indulging in using inappropriate headlines and pictures. I have been shown what has transpired between them and I believe the camera has been zoomed in. This is absolutely pathetic and very, very sad to say the least.”
From Bengaluru, stand-up comedian and theatre personality Rubi Chakravarti feels it’s now time for apologies.
“Don’t bash up the sinner, but you can bash up the sin. I feel it’s best for them to apologise on their folly of targeting Deepika and move on. You can’t keep justifying a sexist and nasty comment. Women have been objectified for ages and comments on the cleavage pictures just show that you can continue to bully your readers with what you feel is right. It would be best to accept that you made a faux pas comment and retract.”
So, how about a front-page apology now?