The music launch and pre-release events held in the Telugu film industry are notoriously known for causing a widespread public outrage usually due to sexist remarks made by the celebrities on such occasions. Senior actor Chalapathi Rao is the latest to draw the wrath of the public and media for his distasteful comments on women. But, surprisingly this time, not just the media or public, but even celebrities have expressed outrage over the controversy. Well, we will discuss the Tollywood’s silent treatment to such controversies in the past in a bit.
But first, what’s more distressing about the controversy is Chalapathi’s inability to understand that he made a comment that reeks of misogyny and male chauvinism. For the uninitiated, Chalapathi has acted in the upcoming film Rarandoi Veduka Chudham and he also attended the film’s pre-release function, which was held on Sunday in Hyderbad. The film’s tagline reads, Ammayilu manasanthiki hanikaram (Girls are injurious to mental peace). When Chalapathi was asked to share his thought on the quirky tagline, he had this to say. “Ammayilu hanikaram kadu kani pakkaloki panikostaru (girls are not harmful, but they are useful in bed).” And in response to Chalapathi’s comments, the male anchor of function, Ravi, shouted, “Super answer sir,” on his microphone from the main stage.
Despite sparking a public outcry with his comments, Chalapathi remains unaffected and sincerely unapologetic. It was visible in his tone and attitude from the video, where he was supposed to regret his regressive remarks. Instead if saying sorry, he tries to justify and explain rationality behind his sexist remarks with a weird analogy. He is perhaps oblivious to the fact that he is making the situation even worse than it already is. He says after his wife passed away, he didn’t do a second marriage or got involved with “wrong” women. He says he still doesn’t understand what’s wrong in his statement.
He has a serious problem. As a matter of fact, his problem is part of a much bigger problem in our society, where a woman is judged and appreciated only based on her looks? His opinion reflects the cognitive process of a thriving breed of men, who fail to appreciate a woman’s abilities beyond performing daily chores within the four walls of a house.
But, Chalapathi is just another male actor in Telugu film industry, who have objectified women at a public function. Tollywood mass hero Nandamuri Balakrishna had infamously said at an audio release event last year, “I have always tried to do different roles. If I simply run behind the actresses, my fans will be disappointed. They like it when I either kiss the girl or make her pregnant.” He added that he also “playfully pinches the female actors he works with”.
Telugu’s popular comedian Ali had blatantly objectified Anushka Shetty during the audio release of Size Zero. He had compared her to “a hot jalebi who everyone likes to eat” and that he became her fan ever since he saw her thighs in Billa. Or young actor Nani at Hyper music launch said, “Raashi, you look beautiful and I won’t say anything more because it won’t sound good. I used the word ‘beautiful’ because it is neat and classy, but everyone here knows how beautiful you are.”
The actors who are condemning the sexist remarks of Chalapathi today unanimously chose not to speak against such controversies in the past. Is it hypocrisy or Chalapathi is a very soft target that doesn’t enjoy too much clout like others in the industry?
It’s high time that the filmmakers stop using female actors just to titillate audience and start giving them more meaningful roles in the films. So men like Chalapathi just might understand women have more meaningful roles to play in the society than just being “useful in bed.”