Metrolife: Delhi's next for Sri Reddy's film industry protest

Sri Reddy, TV journalist-turned-actor, stripped in front of TV cameras last week to protest against the casting couch in the Telugu film industry.

She went on to accuse big names in Hyderabad of sexually exploiting her after promising her roles.

In a phone interview with Metrolife, she said she was out to expose the many murky goings-on in the film industry.

Why is nobody backing your protest?

This protest is very new to the Telugu film industry. There has been no protest of this sort in so many years. Those who are powerful and strong continue to become more powerful and strong. Nobody has dared to raise a voice against them. I have dared to do so. The theatres here are in the hands of four people. Small producers and heroes are afraid. But 35 supporting actors have come forward and narrated their ordeal.

 What was the reason for your protest?

No girl from the Telugu film industry has been offered a chance in Telugu films. They are bringing heroines from outside. I entered the industry because I wanted fame. I love to see myself on screen…. A few people cheated me. They promised to make me the lead in their films if I slept with them. They used me and left me. I have to be open when I say this, or else my protest will not be transparent.

Who are the big names involved?

Daggubati Suresh Babu’s son Abhiram (brother of Bahubali hero Rana Daggubati) promised me a role in his film. He forced me for sex. The studios are in the hands of powerful people. Celebrities are going to studios just to have sex.

What is your problem with senior actor Pawan Kalyan?

He said if I had any problems I should go to the police station rather than to the media. We look up to Pawan Kalyan as our leader. How could he tell people not to bring their problems to him? What leader is he, if he can’t take care of the problems faced by women in the film industry? That night, Pawan Kalyan’s fan trolled all girls who had spoken out against him. They threatened women by saying they would pour acid on their faces, beat up their families and hunt them down to their homes. His fans made us very insecure. The next day, the girls apologised. I took to the mic and asked the girls to be strong and not say sorry. I told them that unless they spoke out, we wouldn’t get justice.

What is director Ram Gopal Varma’s role in all this?

 He said that by protesting, I had touched a beehive. He said many producers and directors, not coming out on the issue, would now speak up. He is my advisor.

Did Ram Gopal Varma offer you money?

He offered me Rs 5 crore to close this matter with Suresh Babu’s son. I told him I am fighting for ‘dharma’. I told him I have to stand up because I am fighting for so many girls…. These people are using so many …. for one movie. I wanted to smash this culture.

What gives you so much confidence?

I am inspired by what Swami Vivekananda said: If you want to get something in your life, you have to eat, sleep and think of it and prepare for the good and bad of it. Only then will you get success. I am following this mantra.

What next?

If we don’t get justice then we will go to Delhi. There is no Committee Against Sexual Harassment in the Telugu film industry because it has so much to hide.

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