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Photographer who recreated the Delhi gangrape as a glossy fashion shoot on a bus says 'women's safety campaign backfired' after outrage on social media

A photographer seemingly recreated the gruesome Delhi gangrape incident using models in an upscale fashion shoot.

Rituparna Chatterjee | IBNLive.comMasalaBai

Updated:August 5, 2014, 3:29 PM IST
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Photographer who recreated the Delhi gangrape as a glossy fashion shoot on a bus says 'women's safety campaign backfired' after outrage on social media
A photographer seemingly recreated the gruesome Delhi gangrape incident using models in an upscale fashion shoot.

A photographer who seemingly recreated the gruesome Delhi gangrape incident of December 16, 2012, using male and female models in an upscale fashion shoot on a bus, sparking revulsion on social media, said he was making a point on women's empowerment that horribly backfired.

Photographer Raj Shetye's photoshoot 'The Wrong Turn', featuring model Jitin Gulati among others, took Facebook and Twitter by storm as it revived memories of an incident that shook the nation and triggered a mass movement to make laws on violent crimes against women more stringent.

"I wanted to throw light on Indian patriarchy and a male dominated society. I actually was using the photoshoot to highlight women's empowerment and lack of safety in India. It's not true that I used the Nirbhaya incident to create awareness. This is my depiction of the current situation using a medium I know and can communicate well in. Consider this. I did with photography what a writer would do if he had to write about that incident," Shetye told IBNLive over phone.

The photos on the website Behance were tagged with the keywords 'hot', 'sexy', 'male', 'revenge', 'kidnap' and 'love'. Shetye, accused of trivialising the gangrape, denied that that was the intention.

The photos have been taken off from the website.

The gangrape and brutalizing of a 23-year-old physiotherapist on an off-duty chartered bus at night as she was heading home was also a case that the international media followed closely and dented India's credibility as a safe destination for women tourists. Among the fallout of the gangrape was also a review of traditional Indian patriarchy and misogyny in all forms of media, including arts and entertainment.

The irony in the photos showing the woman model as a sexual abuse victim (one photo shows two men holding her down as she lies on one of the seats of the bus, pushing away at her aggressors) in a campaign aimed at creating awareness about women's safety on public transport in India is lost on Shetye.

"I did not want to glorify the Nirbhaya incident, this isn't even about that incident. I am a responsible person. Why would I do something that is in bad taste?" Shetye said. "I admit this has taken a wrong direction and we are now doing damage control."

When pointed out that the bus connects his imagery to the December 16 incident, Shetye said "It's really difficult to find a place to shoot in India." The reaction to the photos ranged from stunned disbelief to "disgust" and "disappointment".

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