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Row over ‘Misogynistic’ Poster of Odia Movie Sparks Spat between Sprinter Dutee Chand and Actor

Chand, 23, who is India’s first openly gay athlete, had voiced her criticism against the distasteful poster of the upcoming movie, ‘Mr Kanhaiya’, which is set for release during Ganesh Puja.

Anand ST Das | News18.com

Updated:August 20, 2019, 10:12 PM IST
Row over ‘Misogynistic’ Poster of Odia Movie Sparks Spat between Sprinter Dutee Chand and Actor
The poster of the movie, 'Mr Kanhaiya', featuring actor Papu Pam Pam.

Bhubaneswar: A raging controversy in Odisha over a “misogynistic” poster of an upcoming local movie took an ugly turn on Tuesday with sprinter Dutee Chand threatening legal action against the movie’s lead actor, Papu Pam Pam, for his outbursts against her sexuality.

Chand, 23, who is also India’s first openly gay athlete, had voiced her criticism against the distasteful poster of the upcoming Odia movie, ‘Mr Kanhaiya’, which is set for release during Ganesh Puja.

The controversial poster shows seven women tied to seven leashes held by Pam Pam in a gesture that could be taken to portray the actor controlling their movements. Pam Pam, whose official name is Tattwa Prakash Satapathy, is widely popular in the state although he is often recalled for his raunchy songs and bawdy comedy scenes.

Soon after the poster surfaced on Friday, there was a storm of protests on social media against the depiction of women in it. Women's rights activists and the intelligentsia raised their voices against the poster, calling it “misogynistic” and demanding its immediate withdrawal. Activist Linkan Subudhi filed a police complaint against the movie’s producer, Sitaram Agarwal of Siddharth Music Productions, director Ramesh Rout, and Pam Pam.

“I protest against this poster. What kind of respect for women is this? Are women dogs for men? I urge Siddharth Music to immediately withdraw this poster,” Dutee Chand wrote in Odia on her Facebook page.

Chand, who won the 100m title at the Fifth Indian Grand Prix in Patiala last week and the country's first gold medal at the World University Games last month, later urged Pam Pam to take the initiative in withdrawing the poster.

Referring to the actor by adding the honorific ‘bhai’ (brother) to his name, she said, “A look at the poster makes it clear it is an insult to women. It shows some women being held with a number of leashes by Papubhai. It seems Papubhai thinks of himself as Lord Krishna and holding the reins like the horses in the Mahabharata war. This is a severe injustice to women.”

“Papubhai’s songs and movies have largely projected women in an insulting manner. Lines from his songs are often used by college-going boys to pass indecent comments at their female classmates. Such songs erode the dignity of the Odia language and project women in a negative light. This is why most Odia people do not like to watch Odia movies,” added Chand, who had revealed in May that she is in a same-sex relationship with a woman from her village.

But Pam Pam, who earlier claimed that the artwork was not the official poster of the movie and that a few people had put it on social media with his morphed photo, criticised Chand for her protests.

“Dutee Chand knows what she is… everyone knows from the recent incident how highly she respects women. So she should not be talking about women’s respect. What will she say? She is a famous sprinter, and she should first handle her own controversy. We know how much she respects women,” he said.

In further outbursts alluding to Chand’s same-sex relationship and humble origin, the actor said, “If women marry women, then who will men marry? This is not Odisha’s culture. Her mother had brought her up by grazing cows and cutting grass, and she has spoken out against her mother.”

Chand, who signed her first brand endorsement deal with global sportswear giant Puma on August 8, said she was deeply hurt by Pam Pam’s “utterly indecent personal comments” and threatened to sue him unless he withdraws his words and apologises.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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