Telugu actor Sri Reddy is at the heart of a raging scandal which has cast a cloud on the Telugu film industry. For over a month, she has been garnering a lot of attention due to her serious allegations about the rampant sexual exploitation of female actors by some of the big names in the Telugu film industry. On Saturday, things took a turn for the worse after Sri Reddy staged a semi-nude protest outside the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.
In the presence of the media, Sri Reddy ditched her clothes in protest leading to her arrest for creating nuisance in public space. The actor alleged she has been denied membership in the Movie Artistes Association (MAA) because of her recent allegations on ‘casting couch’, a euphemism for sexual harassment in the show business.
Sri Reddy had alleged that she had sent nude pictures and videos to several filmmakers in the industry, heeding to their demands. However, she alleged they did not honor their promises even after giving in to their demands.
Her main source of discontentment with the industry seemingly stems from her claim that Telugu filmmakers undermine talents in the Telugu states as they only prefer casting ‘imported’ female actors in leading roles. She said about 75 percent of roles in Telugu films should be given to female actors from Telugu states.
The scandal that has caused a dent in the public image of the Telugu film industry began last month with Sri Reddy’s explosive interviews to Telugu news channels. In the backdrop of the “Mee Too” movement that has been sweeping Hollywood, the Telugu news reader-turned-actor kicked up a lot of dust claiming that some of the biggest names (without directly taking names) have asked for sexual favors from women in exchange for roles in films.
According to her statistic, about 90 percent of the women in the film industry would have faced the evils of casting couch.
The Telugu new channels gave prime slots to debate her allegations, which led to a series of new controversies. During a debate on the scandal on TV5, anchor E Sambashiva Rao questioned actor Posani Murali Krishna if “brokers” and “whores” weren’t present in the film industry.
It led to a massive outrage among the celebrities. The Movie Artistes Association called a press meet to let everyone know how much they were disgusted by remarks made by the news anchor in the question. The event was attended by Rakul Preet, Manchu Lakshmi and director Nandini Reddy among others.
Speaking at the event, Rakul indirectly rubbished the allegations made by Sri Reddy, saying she never faced sexual harassment in her career.
The controversy intensified recently after Sri Reddy named director Sekhar Kammula of sexually harassing her in a Facebook post. The director, who has blockbusters such as Fidaa and Happy Days to his credit, immediately hit back at Reddy in a series of tweets.
“APOLOGIZE and take back every word that was posted against me or be ready to face legal action, which will include criminal/ civil proceedings (sic),” he warned.
Sri Reddy, however, refused to relent. The actor said she was not afraid to fight legally as she has proof to back all her allegations.
On Saturday, after staging the strip-protest, Reddy issued an ultimatum to the film industry. “It is because I still respect the Telugu film industry, I have not exposed anyone. Please understand and meet my demands,” she sent a warning to the industry through the media. And she has also promised that she will only escalate her protest if things don’t change soon.
Amid the entire controversy, Ram Gopal Varma has tweeted in favor of the aspiring actor, calling her a “national celebrity” after she resorted to a strip protest in Hyderabad recently.
The filmmaker’s tweet read, “Sri Reddy has become a national celebrity… People in Mumbai, who don’t even know Pawan Kalyan, are talking about Sri Reddy.”