The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Topless for camera, not screen

Ahmedabad, Oct. 27: Topless on the sets, but on screen' No way.

City girl Janaki Shah, the lead actress in Bollywood suspense thriller Shaque, is fuming at her director for not keeping his word over a topless shot which, she claims, she agreed to do only after being assured that it would be snipped.

“I agreed to the shot only after I was promised by the director that the controversial shot would be deleted,” she says. “But now the director says it will not be cut.”

In a throwback to the controversy last year involving Manisha Koirala, Janaki has made up her mind to move court to stall the release of the film if director Vinod Chhabra does not delete the “objectionable scene”. The film is scheduled for a December release.

Manisha had filed a case against the director of Ek Chhoti Si Love Story for breach of trust. She claimed that the director included nude scenes, with the help of a body double, without telling her.

Janaki — who plays a rich, bold NRI who has come down from Canada — says “things happened too fast”. She began shooting for the film just two weeks after she landed in Mumbai. The film, a murder mystery, was completed in just 50 days.

In the film, Janaki demands gender equality and has a heated argument with the hero, Quber Chauhan. The controversial scene comes on a tennis court where the hero tears off his shirt and challenges her to do the same. “Since I was playing the role of a bold girl, I was supposed to tear off my shirt, too,” Janaki says.

She did take off her shirt. “But the director insisted I tear off the bra, too. We had an argument. The director promised that the scene would be deleted from the final version of the film,” says Janaki, who later found that in the rush print, the scene had not been deleted.

The controversy, which some people think is a publicity stunt by a newcomer to generate interest in her debut film, even saw Janaki’s boyfriend come into the picture. “Her boyfriend had called up, asking why do ‘you not delete that topless scene’,” Chhabra says.

Chhabra, who says Janaki is objecting to the scene because of the boyfriend, says he told the boyfriend it was not possible to delete the scene now. “The shot can be deleted only if the Censor Board wants to delete it.”

The actress alleges that Chhabra is insisting on retaining the scene because sex sells. “He also thinks that a newcomer like me would not object. But I do not want this kind of image. It will harm my reputation and career in the film industry,” Janaki says.

The 23-year-old says her family members are hurt, though Chhabra dismissed her claim. He also said Janaki was told in the presence of her co-actors that the shot was required. “She was told there will be a smooching scene and would have to tear off her shirt. This was made very clear to her before she was signed for the film. In fact, she had sought some time to seek her parents’ permission who allowed her to go ahead,” he says.

“She came back and told me that she has no objection. In fact, we had to do a re-take of that particular shot which she happily re-enacted, tore her bra, not just once but twice.”

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