Bollywood megastar Ranveer Singh was grilled by police on Monday on charges of “obscenity” after posting naked photos of himself, in a case highlighting India’s complex relationship with nudity.
Singh, 37, posted in July on social media the racy images shot for New York-based Paper magazine, sparking a media frenzy in India and resulting in multiple complaints. Mumbai police questioned Singh for more than two hours on Monday morning on charges of “corrupting youth of society” and “embarrassing women”, police said, and recorded his official statement. “The inquiry is ongoing,” senior police inspector Jaykumar Suryavanshi told AFP, without disclosing details of Singh’s statement.
The photos of Singh, the star of hits “Gully Boy” and “Simmba”, stretched out naked on a carpet provoked a storm of debate on India’s rolling TV news. “Of course this is vulgar, we can see his bum… it’s a national issue!” exclaimed lawyer Vedika Chaubey during a panel show on broadcaster NDTV, days after lodging a complaint against Singh with police. India is home to ancient sex treatise the “Kama Sutra” and erotic scenes are a common sight on ancient temples, as are ash-smeared holy men taking part in religious festivals today. But Singh, who is married to fellow superstar Deepika Padukone, is heading down a well-trodden path of complaints and charges against celebrities falling foul of vague colonial-era rules about “obscenity”.
“Like they say, ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Obscenity very much therefore… lies in the crotch of the beholder,” said Supreme Court lawyer Faisal Sherwani.
Personalities hit by complaints include fellow Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan, who was naked apart from a strategically placed cassette player in a poster promoting his 2014 movie “P.K.”. Model turned actor Milind Soman was hit with charges after baring it all in a 1995 shoe advertisement with model Madhu Sapre and a python. The charges were dropped after 14 years. Renowned artist M.F. Husain fled the country after a painting depicting a nude woman posing across a map of the country got him in legal trouble, dying in self-imposed exile in 2011.
Earlier this year a professor in Kolkata said she was fired after posting photos of herself in a bikini on Instagram. The university is reportedly suing her for $12 million.
Human rights lawyer and social activist Abha Singh said the laws needed to be updated.