Art & Entertainment

Much Ado About Nothing? Ranveer Singh Under Scanner Over ‘Nude’ Photoshoot

Ranveer Singh, known for his films and his fashion choices ranging from the classic to the absurd, is ruling the headlines - not for a role but for a photoshoot in an international magazine.

Much Ado About Nothing? Ranveer Singh Under Scanner Over ‘Nude’ Photoshoot

Ranveer Singh, known for his films and his fashion choices ranging from the classic to the absurd, is ruling the headlines - not for a role but for a photo shoot in an international magazine.

The “Gully Boy” star is at the centre of debate on what constitutes obscenity OVERhis bare-bodied photographs that he shared on his Instagram page, the issue dominating discussions in TV studios, social media and drawing rooms. He is also facing an FIR in Mumbai following a complaint from an NGO alleging that he had "hurt the sentiments of women in general and insulted their modesty through his photographs".  

The actor has made no comment but several others have spoken out.

The controversy is "totally ridiculous", said celebrity photographer Dabboo Ratnani. Adman Prahlad Kakkar and actor Pooja Bedi, who was in trouble over a condom commercial in the 1990s, also backed Singh. 

"There's nothing wrong with the pictures. Photography needs to be seen as an art form in India," Ratnani, who is famous for his celebrity calendars, told PTI.  

 As the issue snowballed and stills from the shoot were widely shared across platforms, some people dubbed them tasteless and others defended the actor and said morality is subjective.

“I don’t know how many people will understand… this is a national issue,” Vedika Chaubey, a former journalist and lawyer, who has also filed a police complaint against Singh in Mumbai, told a TV channel.

According to Ratnani, however, Singh is a "trendsetter" comfortable in his skin, 

Moreover, he said, people have been doing such shoots internationally since time immemorial.  

"He is gutsy to do it. India hasn't seen much of this photography, especially with men. Anything new will create this kind of traction.  

"The pictures are not in-your-face obscene or vulgar in any way. There's a lot left to your imagination. It's aesthetic, high contrast photography. So I don't know what the issue is?" Ratnani asked.  

Social media is also to be blamed, said Ratnani.  

"It is being blown out of proportion. Social media is adding to the whole hysteria. It could be the internet or the amount of attention the pictures are receiving. The more we speak about, the more it is going to get bigger. It goes both ways," he added.  

Singh is not the first Indian celebrity to face a backlash and legal troubles for 'shedding it all' in front of the camera.  

Supermodels Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre were in a similar controversy when they posed nude for a shoe advertisement in 1995. A case registered against the models dragged on for 14 years with the court finally acquitting them.

"Things have changed a little since the time of Raja Ravi Varma," wrote Soman on Twitter in a cryptic reference to the iconic 19th century painter being charged with cases of obscenity and offending public morality through his work.  

"We have to come to terms with the fact that sex, sexuality and sensuality is normal and desirable," Pooja Bedi, who was targeted for a condom advertisement she shot for legendary adman Alyque Padamsee in 1990, told PTI. The ad was banned after many complained about the objectionable content.

"Morality is subjective and you see nudity in art, cinema and photography.Nudity isn't pornography. You can find a naked Ranveer Singh on Instagram just as easily as a naked Kardashian," she added.  

Bedi believes it is easy for people to call out celebrities.  "If an actor does it, it's of screaming, moral and legal value and interest?"

Laws, in her view, need to encompass, recognise and protect an evolving moral compass,  freedom of expression and changing dynamics of society as well as create a uniform law and approach for all sections of society.  

According to ad guru Kakkar, the entire Ranveer Singh row is a "non-issue".  

In his view, it is the users' responsibility to select the content they would like to consume on social media.  

"The act of scrolling on your social media feed and you happen to see something, it means you are making an effort to look for things.  

"The lady said her children saw the photos, but children below 13 are not allowed on certain sites. It's not like that anyone gave you a newspaper at your doorstep," Kakkar told PTI.  

According to the advertising expert, the photographs were meant for Paper Magazine, based out of New York, and if anyone should be sued it should be the publication.  

"It was for a foreign magazine, it's not meant for India. If they want to sue anybody with an FIR, sue the magazine in New York... if you have the guts," he said.  

Apart from the NGO, lawyer Chaubey submitted a separate complaint against Singh at Mumbai’s Chembur police station. She said a case on the charge of intent to outrage the modesty of women should be filed against the actor.  

"The courts, cops, the people who have lodged an FIR are not hyping it. The media is hyping the issue. This is a waste of national-level newstime. We are wasting the courts' time, cops' time. Is there no better news that's happening in this country today?" Kakkar asked.  


Except for a few, the film industry has mostly been quiet on the issue.  "I don't like anything negative said about my favourite co-star, Ranveer Singh... I love him. He's our favourite and he has given us so much in the movies. We should only give him love," Alia Bhatt had said at a press event on Monday.  

Actor Swara Bhasker said there are better issues to discuss than Singh's photoshoot. 

 "Unbelievable foolishness and unemployment are rampant in our country!" she tweeted.  

Mumbai Police has registered the FIR against Singh under various Indian Penal Code sections, including 292 (sale of obscene books, etc), 293 (sale of obscene objects to young people), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and provisions of the Information Technology Act, said an official from the Chembur police station.  


Shrayana Bhattacharya, author of "Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India's Lonely Young Women", said there were more important issues ailing the country that needed immediate attention.  

"Yaar, Ranveer ji ki photos don't outrage our modesty.The latest labour force survey results on women's employment does. 17.4 percent of employed women hold regular salaried jobs. Case file karein? Time for reparations?" she tweeted. 

[With Inputs From PTI]