Once a household name and now a miserable beauty- Shweta Basu Prasad- who featured as a child artist in the popular soap, `Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki`, has become the scapegoat of the media and the people.
So, here we are, devouring every bit of information about Shweta. Everyone is talking about her. Her story has everything to make a quintessential Bollywood movie - from being famous to falling prey to the underbelly of the glamour world. Only this is not a film.
The 23 year-old young actress was caught in a prostitution racket by the Hyderabad police. According to reports, she was caught in a compromising state when the police raided a plush hotel at Banjara Hills. The actress was held along with a pimp and some high profile businessmen from Mumbai.
When the young 23 year-old was caught, her name was revealed instantaneously. While those who were also responsible - the pimp and, the big tycoons – their names were curtained. Why? Is the law not equal for everyone? The police kept mum about her clients' name, while they exposed Shweta to the media without a second thought. And it came swooping down on her private life. She became a victim of the ever cruel paparazzi.
Our society is such that we are quick to judge women, without even waiting to see both sides of a story.
Why this disparity? The police took no time to mar the name of the young lady, defaming her, attacking her morality while everything else was conveniently hushed. Before blaming her blatantly, how many of us actually asked the reason for her having to resort to this? No one wants to know her story, but we are rather busy in shame-facing her.
In all this - Shweta, a National Award winning actress - who featured in 'Makdee' saving her on-screen comrades from a web of deceit has now become the victim of the vicious web of prostitution herself.
Do we have the right to judge to her?
Our country boasts of a rather hypocritical attitude when we deal with sensitive topics such as this- blame the girl, her modesty and then blame the media. If the media is responsible for sensationalizing her story, so are the others as citizens of the country.
These days people look for `masala` in any news item. They do not want to read about a 'dry boring' story. Gossip is what thrills readers. So a story of an actor dying of hunger will be read much less than a celebrity buying a pet. And then we `blame the media` for portraying Shweta in poor light.
Double standards reek in our behaviour- of making a story out of anything and then blaming the media for not showing the other side.
We have no qualms whistling at women in scanty clothes. Women dancing to some cheesy item numbers with raunchy moves in movies enthrall us. But when it comes to a woman admitting that she took the path to prostitution because of financial constraints, we are quick to judge her.
She had no work, no money, has a family to support - but we still chose to defame her rather than judging her clients too, who were so driven by lust that they had no issue to splurge on pimps and prostitutes. Irony is that our society has inculcated such values in us that we fail to reason or empathise. We play the blame-game validating our logic to our so called culture and moral values.
Here we are, hungrily watching an adult-star turned actress take Bollywood by storm, glorifying her. And at the same time we loathe an award winning actress who falls prey to prostitution out of lack of work.
A few people from the Bollywood fraternity have come out to support her, and promised to cast her in their movies. But where were they when she was looking for work? We sure do live in a funny world, don't we?
And now she has been kept in a remand home. Why are those people not behind bars who were found along with her? Who has given us the right to take up the role of moral policing?
Women in India are subjected to the periphery most of the times, and the public reaction to Shweta Basu's case comes as no surprise.
Shweta has the right to be heard, to tell her story, to expose those involved with her and the situation which left her with this as the only option. A country which is still struggling to come to terms with the existence of 'prostitution', the sudden overflow of media reports referring to TV actress-cum-Tollywood beauty's sex racket is a big shocker. But, this unexpected storm of discussion about sex trade and its moral implications have only started after her name hit the headlines. Why? Just because she is an actor, a celebrity and a public figure? Her name is flashed in every newspaper, news channel and all forms of social media. Is that fair?
People have an uncanny ability to turn a blind-eye to someone's pain and helplessness. We become judges of everybody's life. We lament for a few moments on Facebook and Twitter on disturbing issues, and then conveniently go back to normalcy.
It's high time we arrive at a solution for women in our country voluntarily choosing prostitution due to financial pressures, rather than de-glorifying them and bad-mouthing their life and decisions.
Today we know of Shweta, tomorrow there will be many more who will be drawn to the sex trade for the lack of resources to live a dignified life.