Are actresses being targeted?

By DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sashidhar Adivi

20 December 2022

Hiding behind the mask of freedom of expression people are demeaning and being disrespectful to actresses

The row over Deepika Padukone’s ‘saffron’ costume in the Besharam Rang song from the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan isn’t going to die down any time soon. Ex MP and actor Divya Spandana expressed her anger over the raging controversy on social media, terming misogyny ‘the biggest evil.’ She also cited examples of how female actors have been targeted for all kinds of things in the recent past. “Samantha trolled for her divorce, Sai Pallavi for her opinions, Rashmika for her separation, Deepika for her clothes and many, many other women for pretty much EVERYTHING. Freedom of choice is our basic right. Women are the embodiment of Maa Durga — misogyny is an evil we must fight,” tweeted Divya.

She also appealed to everyone to refrain from posting derogatory comments against women, children or anyone.  Divya’s tweet has brought into focus the plight of ‘leading ladies’ who are on top of their game but are targeted unreasonably for their choices, be it professional or personal.

Recently, Rashmika Mandanna shared a glimpse into the kind of hate she’s been receiving from many people for various reasons. Commenting on the abuse she’s been getting for calling off her engagement and for the Kantara episode, among other instances, she said, “I just have love for them (trollers). I don’t know what else I’m supposed to say about it. It’s left to them. The world doesn’t know what’s happening on the inside. We can’t put a camera on our personal lives and show it.”

Samantha too came under scrutiny for her personal and professional choices – the decision she and her husband  Naga Chaitanya took to part ways, her role in The Family Man 2, and her special song in Pushpa. She was also accused for leaking info about her ex husband and Shobita Dhulipala seeing each other. The abuse reached such a pitch that Sam was forced to intervene and shut down the trolls. “Rumours on girl - Must be true !! Rumours on boy- Planted by girl !! Grow up guys .. Parties involved have clearly moved on .. you should move on too !! Concentrate on your work … on your families .. move on!!,” she tweeted.

Soft targets

A quick look at the statistics shows that women who are acing their game are more in the crosshairs of the trolls than their male counterparts. Is that because women are softer targets, especially in showbiz?

Anasuya is a superstar on the small screen. But that hasn’t kept her safe from constant criticism and abuse on social media. She tells us that every time she speaks up, she’s been made a victim of age, body and costume shaming.

Incited by films?

In many of the cases, the actresses in question have hardly put a foot wrong. But in films, a lot of cuss words are used against women. So, are films influencing the trolls?

Filmmaker Nandini Reddy feels films are simply a reflection of what is happening in society. Whether it’s trolling or using cuss words, a woman has always been an easy target, she adds. “But as a woman filmmaker, what I can do is to sanitise my environment and make sure it doesn’t happen on my sets and films. For change to happen, it starts with the conditioning given to children at home and then for society at large to make the change collectively,” Nandini asserts.

Filmmaker Lakshmi Soujanya feels that those who choose careers that demand they are in the public eye should be prepared to be thick-skinned.

“When people appreciate actors or directors for their work, we feel happy. But people leading public lives should also take criticism in their stride,” she says, adding that people should also draw a line somewhere, regarding criticism.

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