By Nidhi Kinhal
An ugly controversy has cropped up in the Kannada film industry, thanks to Dandupalya 2, which released a week ago. A clip from it was leaked to the media in which actress Sanjjanaa Galrani is stripped and humiliated by a policeman, as people watch at a police station.
The scene attracted comments from the media because Galrani appears nude in it. Of course, a Kannada news channel decided to question her morality, “For the first time in Kannada cinema, a nude scene was shot. Sanjjanaa shed all her shame to go nude for a shot in Dandupalya 2. The controversial scene was, however, deleted by the censor board,” according to The News Minute.
Galrani had to not only clarify to the press that she was not completely nude, show pictures of her wearing a sleeveless backless bodysuit as evidence, and call out the media’s assumptions while they interrogated her, but also bear the humiliation of people questioning her choices. At a press conference, she said, “What is wrong in doing a bold scene? Why does the media get to decide what kind of work I should do?” She then added, “We are figuring out who is behind the leak and will give a complete clarification once director Srinivasa Raju, who is in Hyderabad returns to Bengaluru. We will definitely file a police complaint against the person who leaked the video.”
However it seems as if producer K Manju, is not happy. “This is a Kannada movie not a Hollywood one. We respect women in our culture and do not allow them to do nude scenes.” We don’t understand who Manju is referring to as the person who should “allow” women to do nude scenes, but we’re guessing maybe there’s panel and Manju is definitely on it.
And that Hollywood comparison is lost on us — there’s routine item numbers, violence against women in films and movies that show death is better than rape. What does nudity have to do with respecting women anyway? It’s paternalistic to not ‘allow’ women to do what they want, and to overrule their choices in the name of honour. And the Dandupalya 2 controversy just goes to show how insidious that rhetoric is.
How her violent assault was portrayed, and what notions it reinforces is a different matter altogether, one that the moral police don’t seem to be bothered to analyse. It’s also unclear if they have taken notice that the clip was circulated over WhatsApp, after it was leaked. There are many things that actually deserve our anger and investigation — for instance, over how the clip was leaked in the first place. And what the headlines chose to focus on says a lot about the society we live in.
Besides, as we’ve written before, the movie comes with its own share of problems: employing casual depictions of rape or graphic violence against women for shock and gratification, only to sell the movie. Why isn’t anyone pointing that out?