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Bollywood Actress Deepika Padukone: ‘Yes! I Am a Woman. I Have Breasts and a Cleavage! You Got a Problem?!’

Indian Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone in Mumbai. Image by Ravindra Hande. Copyright Demotix (5/11/2014)

Indian Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone in Mumbai. Image by Ravindra Hande. Copyright Demotix (5/11/2014)

A popular news portal's tasteless remark about Indian film actress Deepika Padukone‘s cleavage in the upcoming satirical movie ‘Finding Fanny‘ has received a lashing from irate Twitter users, including from the actress herself. 

Leading news media Times of India‘s entertainment page TOI Entertainment posted a screenshot from the film cropped around Padukone's cleavage linking to a photo gallery post and the comment “Deepika's cleavage show” on Twitter on September 14. Padukone angrily responded the same day in a tweet: 

After Padukone shared her first tweet, it grabbed many eyes, and people started strongly criticizing the portal's comment. TOIEntertainment responded to Padukone saying that their comment was a compliment and they wanted others to know how great she looked. This, in turn, provoked more criticism and even abuse to be directed at them.

TOI eventually deleted both the tweets and the photo gallery after Padukone accused them of disrespecting women:

Born to famous Indian badminton player Prakash Padukone, Padukone has acted in 26 movies since her debut in 2006 and has a large online following — she has 21+ million fans on her Facebook page and 7+ million followers on Twitter. About 26,500 people tweeted about TOI's remark with the hashtag #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone.

Fans and fellow Bollywood figures took to their Twitter accounts to support Padukone. A popular parody account of Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja wondered why TOI scrubbed the tweet if they indeed believed their own defense: 

Indian film actress Nimrat Kaur tweeted:

Film director Gauri Shinde condemned TOI's tweet:

Indian model and actor Pulkit Samrat, who has 122,000 followers on Twitter, questioned the journalistic purpose behind TOI's tweet:

News-oriented Facebook page ‘The Logical Indian’, which as more than 1.4 million likes, poked holes in TOI's response that their remark was a compliment: 

Collage of Facebook posts by supporting Deepika Padukone's bold response to TOI. Courtesy: The Logical Indian

Collage of Facebook posts by supporting Deepika Padukone's bold response to TOI. Courtesy: The Logical Indian

TOI has still not published any public apology to date, which has strongly been debated on the social media and blogs.

Indian Homemaker, who blogs at ‘The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker‘, analysed reactions to the controversy that were less than supportive of the actress. She argued that Padukone's response was positive: 

It should start a much needed dialogue and hopefully influence in some small way, the way women’s bodies are viewed. As of now, everybody in India seems to know who owns women’s bodies – including the bodies of women in public spaces.

The blogger also commented on a statement that rape and crime against women are increasing in India and the actresses play a important part in that:

Rapes and crime against women are not increasing. The silence of survivors is ‘decreasing’. The confidence to report rape is increasing.The fear of being shamed, blamed and named is decreasing.

India has faced intense international scrutiny over the country's attitudes towards women following the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi in 2012. The woman later died of her injuries. Padukone's stance can inspire a lot of women in India to protest against discrimination and abuse.

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