Ranveer’s (no) costume drama
Ranveer Singh, soon after he broke the internet with his nude photoshoot for a magazine last week, was booked by the Mumbai police after a complaint from a Mumbai-based lawyer, who accused the Bollywood actor for ‘crossing all limits’.
A Mumbai-based NGO too filed a complaint against him for ‘hurting women’s sentiments and modesty’.
Milind Soman, Shilpa Shetty and some others from the showbiz have found themselves in a similar situation in the past and have fought cases for over decades. Ranveer, who has now allegedly violated the obscenity law, is receiving continuous backing from celebrities and people alike while he has also been criticised for being a relentless attention seeker.
Showtime spoke to professionals from different fields and they opined that the entire row is just an exaggeration.
It’s a nonissue. The law can be traced to the offense of obscenity. You know the famous line right, ‘Pornography can’t be described. But I will know it when I see it.’ If he is going to bare it all for a photo shoot or a cause, it falls under the category of ‘art’. And it is subject to the beholder. Obscenity as a concept depends on the societal parameters prevailing at that day. The case in point is the famous book ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. There was a huge fuss about it long back in the legal circle that it was obscene. But when you read it today, it’s very sedate.
So when a person seeks to invoke criminal law, it’s just his or her perception. Take Netflix for example. Most of the programmes on the streaming platform involve nudity. There is not much fuss about this. But when we were children, programmes involving models in their undergarments on MTV would be banished to a midnight show on television. So that’s how far we have come.
You cannot invoke criminal jurisprudence because you disagree with what you see. If it falls under the parameters of the Indecent Representation of Women Act, then objections make sense. The pictures artfully depicted covering of his genitals. So why are we talking about obscenity? What if the whole exercise was for a charitable purpose? Would we see the same outrage? Let’s apply the same logic to an advertisement of an undergarment. Would you call artistes in the ad, who are earning their livelihood, as people spreading obscenity?
Gautamidtya Sridhara, advocate practicing in the Karnataka High Court
Normalises body-positive conversations
Nudity hasn’t become an art all of a sudden. It’s been that way since ancient times. I really don’t know why people are so hurt by his photo? I think we are turning our eyes away from more important things in society by making a big fuss about that picture. We need to appreciate his effort as it requires guts to go naked in front of a camera.
I have been asked to pose naked but I am not comfortable yet. Hopefully I will get there too one day. But what Ranveer’s picture tells us is that it’s important to artistically show different types of bodies for people to feel confident of their own bodies.
There are chubby, skin and fit people around us. And we all have, in some way or the other, had issues with our bodies. I myself do. So the picture normalises the conversations on body positivity.
-Ashish Chopra, model and first-runner up, Mr Gay World India, 2018
Photos show a kind of vulnerability
I had done a project called Breathing Canvas in 2016. I picked people who weren’t models and actors. I picked dancers, sportspersons, moms and others. They were all women and I painted on their bodies. We spoke for a whole day and it helped in sharing each other’s childhood traumas because of the stress on body conditioning. We discussed how there is a constant talk about our colour and body size. So, such awareness about our own bodies is important.
Ranveer was bold enough to put his body out there and he doesn’t look like a macho dude showing his genitals. When I saw his picture, I felt he looked like a man who is so soft. I didn’t see a guy who was trying to be cool. So it’s all about perceptions.
The beauty of the photo is that Ranveer is showing a kind of vulnerability. Artistes are being extra careful these days because of the intolerant atmosphere around us. Showing vulnerability is a strength and it’s a way of growing. It’s the biggest form of courage because it’s like telling the truth.
-Nidhi Mariam Jacob, artist and muralist
Vulgarity a subjective term
From the photographers’ point of view, we think about the purpose behind such photoshoots. If you are conveying an idea or selling a brand, then the photo will be shot in such a way that people get the intention behind the shoot. So the focus isn’t on exposing the body. We need to understand that artistes keep experimenting. It’s about trying something new and how you grab the eyeballs of people. People are definitely allowed to critique any picture but to file a case is too much. Vulgarity is a subjective term. Instead of trying to prove it, we need to see it as an expression of art.
-Sahil Taksh, celebrity and fashion photographer