Telugu Film Industry Rocked As Actress Strips In Protest Of Casting Couch Harassment
The steady spread of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement to India continued as Sri Reddy, a Telugu actress, pushed her campaign against harassment in the industry into the public eye this weekend. She first staged a dharna outside the Movie Artistes’ Association (MAA) headquarters in Hyderabad. When she received no attention, she stripped in the middle of the road and held court topless in protest.
She claims that this is the only way to have her voice heard. She alleges that she was made to strip nude in front of film industry bigwigs and was offered no roles in return. The MAA has refused to give her membership first citing her behavior and then her failure to correctly complete her paperwork.
Reddy has named a number of errant individuals on social media, including director Shekar Kummula, who has now threatened to take legal action against her.
While the existence and the immorality of the casting couch exists, Reddy’s campaign has not been met with significant industry support because of her initial complicity in the system. She states that she gave into the casting team’s demands, and only raised her voice when her actions were not met with film roles. If the casting team has indeed mislead her and exploited her situation then they should obviously be held accountable. However, it is difficult to prove that she was promised any work in exchange for services in the first place. Her complaints would have found greater resonance and more legitimacy if she had blown the whistle when the offers were first made.
A Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) is mandatory in any workplace with more than ten employees. The film industry seems to act independently of this mandate, which is especially concerning given the nature of the industry and the reputation it has come to have.