Cell to address complaints of sexual exploitation in Tollywood

Hyderabad: Amid the raging row over casting couch in Telugu film industry, the Telangana government on Saturday decided to form a special cell to look into complaints of sexual exploitation.

After a meeting with representatives of Tollywood, Minister for Cinematography T. Srinivas Yadav announced that the special cell will be created in the Film Development Corporation.

The decision came amid a huge row over complaints of sexual exploitation made by actress Sri Reddy, who hit headlines with strip protest and received support from women’s organisations.

The meeting convened by the minister with members of Movie Artists’ Association (MAA) and leading personalities of the Tollywood discussed the recent developments in Tollywood.

Yadav advised all to put an end to the controversy. He urged the industry representatives to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

On the row over MAA membership, he said from now onwards the Film Development Corporation will issue the membership cards.

The minister said if women artists face any problems, they could bring it to the notice of the police or ‘She’ teams of the police force, especially constituted to deal with sexual harassment.

He directed the authorities to provide proper facilities to women at the places of film shooting. The minister said the government would deal firmly with any complaints of harassment of women.

MAA president Shivaji Raja, actress Jevitha Rajasekhar, Tammareddy Bharadwaj, C. Kalyan, Parachuri Venkateshwar Rao, Naresh and officials of Cinematography, Labour and Police departments attended the meeting.

The meeting was called a day after popular actor and Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan asked MAA and Telugu Film Chamber to immediately take steps to end the controversy.

Pawan had targeted some Telugu television channels for their coverage of Sri Reddy, who had abused his mother. He had called upon people to boycott three channels for what he calls making business out of nudity and profanity.

Sri Reddy, a television anchor-turned-actress, had created a sensation by resorting to strip protest against casting couch in Tollywood in front of the office of Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce here on April 7.

The actress, who started her career as a news reader on a Telugu channel and also did small roles in a couple of films, named a few prominent personalities of the industry. She had also targeted MAA for denying her membership.

MAA responded with a ban on the actress but later withdrew it after the National Human Rights Commission sent notices to the Telangana government and the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry over her allegations of sexual exploitation.

The commission took suo moto cognizance of media reports about the allegations raised by Sri Reddy and a lack of grievance redressal mechanism for women in the film industry.