“Shame shame puppy shame, all the monkeys know your name!” All of us remember this rhyme that we so innocently recited every time we thought someone had done something shameful. Looks like Sri Reddy still holds on to this couplet very dearly. At least that’s what her latest Facebook post suggests. BBC recently reported about the arrest of an Indian couple in the US who allegedly ran a prostitution ring, by luring female actresses from India. This has brought back the casting couch allegations surrounding Tollywood, with Sri Reddy being the key whistleblower.
According to the recently revealed federal charges, Kishan Modugumudi and his wife, Chandra, arranged for at least five Telugu actresses to travel to the US on the pretext of attending cultural events as performers or guests. BBC Telugu has acquired a copy of the 42-page affidavit that details the charges and evidence against the couple, who appear to have been under investigation by the US Department of Homeland Security since January 2018.
According to the affidavit, Modugumudi first arrived in Chicago in April 2015 and his wife joined him a few months later. He is said to have claimed in his visa application that he was “involved” with the Telugu film industry and wanted to travel to the US to “make contacts”. The couple’s visas expired six months after their arrival but they stayed on.
The key whistleblower
Despite not having any evidence as yet, Sri Reddy has been on an allegation spree that is doing rounds on social media, often deemed as the truth. While a few celebrities from Tollywood have threatened to file defamation cases against her, Sri Reddy’s latest act has drawn condemnation from even those who initially supported her.
Actress Sandhya stated, “What Sri Reddy did is condemnable. We have been appealing to the media to not speculate on the victims and here she is, revealing names along with photographs.” Activist and journalist Sajaya Kakarla too slammed the actor.
“This is very unfortunate. We do not want to associate with Sri Reddy in this particular act, where she has resorted to naming and shaming the alleged victims. We do not accept that, we condemn it. Whether it is Sri Reddy or any media outlet, anyone resorting to naming and shaming the alleged victims would be condemned,” stated Sajaya, further elaborating, “We explained to her (Sri Reddy) about gender sensitivity, but she is paying no heed to us. I think she is in a phase where she has been subjected to so much trolling and so many threats that she is just venting out her frustration.”
Well, controversies aren’t something new for Sri Reddy. Her semi-naked protest against casting couch and exploitation of struggling actresses by producers of Tollywood shook up the nation’s conscience. This recent case goes on to prove that Sri Reddy isn’t someone to give up easily and is determined to battle the devils of Tollywood. But at what cost?
The recent ‘shame shame puppy shame’ on social media and the entire Tollywood pooh-poohing her act of revealing it all (no pun intended) leaves one wondering where all this would eventually lead? One, she’d be asked to ‘shut up and dance’, perhaps by being offered a hefty amount and few potential box office blockbusters in Tollywood. Two, she’d carry on with her ‘David v/s Goliath fight’ and emerge triumphant as a brave soul who fought till the end – end of either her life or the practice of casting couch, which is as old as ‘Baba Adam ka zamaana’, as veteran choreographer Saroj Khan would like to put it.
If only the trolls learned the age-old wisdom of ‘Silence is golden’. In hindsight, this maxim seems to be the mantra for everyone in the film industry. Shouldn’t it be the trolls who should be silenced rather than the whistleblower? Shame shame, puppy shame!