NEW DELHI: Perhaps,and hopefully, the last word should go to a plaintive reader who posted, “stop it Times of India, please enough!”

There is something seriously wrong with the media, when one of the highest circulated, richest, and perhaps even most powerful newspapers in Delhi spends days fighting with a film star on her right to privacy. And allows ‘management’ to make a laughing stock of ‘journalism’ in the race for publicity and advertisements.

The Times of India that has been targeting Deepika Padukone has created a social media storm of protest and in the process attracted ridicule and sarcasm. In the exchange of messages Padukone in fact has emerged with dignity quite unlike the newspaper that has stooped to levels that are not expected even in the entertainment sections of publications that claim to be associated with serious journalism.

In a bid to attract the eyeballs the TOI Twitter account of the entertainment section tweeted a video of the actor under the title "ÖMG! Deepika Padukone's cleavage show!" She responded with a feisty, “"YES!I am a Woman.I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??" Clearly her response had a lot to do with the fact that this in-bad-taste-tweet was coming not from a side sleazy publication but a newspaper of the stature of the Times of India.

TOI, in its initial response, stated feebly, “It's a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)" A little pathetic exposing not Padukone but the standards of entertainment journalism the newspaper has stooped to.

In fact the actor in a more detailed post on Facebook drew reluctant admiration even from hardened feminists and activists when she said:

“There is only ONE sign that a woman wants to have sex and that is that she says “YES”.

The reason I write the above line is because we all know that in India we are so desperately trying to make a change in the way sections of our society think in order to move towards a happier world devoid of inequality,rape,fear and pain.

I am not naive about my own profession; it is one that requires lots of demanding things of me. A character may demand that I be clothed from head to toe or be completely naked, and it will be my choice as an actor whether or not I take either. Understand that this is a ROLE and not REAL, and it is my job to portray whatever character I choose to play convincingly.

What my concern is and I am stating it clearly so it is not misconstrued or confused with Shahrukh’s 8-pack or any other woman’s or man’s anatomy. I have spoken out against an ideology that such regressive tactics are still being employed to draw a reader’s attention at a time when we are striving for women’s equality and empowerment. In a time where women should be applauded for making headway in a male-dominated society,we blur the lines between REEL and REAL life and dilute all our efforts by making a one-year old back sliding piece of news a headline. Digging out an old article and headlining it “OMG: Deepika’s Cleavage Show!” to attract readers is using the power of influence to proliferate recessive thought.

When an actresses inner wear decides to do a "peek-a-boo",she most definitely did not step out with the intention to do so.So instead of zooming in,circling it and pointing arrows at it,why don't we give her some 'respect' and let it go instead of making it 'headlines'!? Are we not human?Yes we marvel,envy and drool over a male actors 8pack abs in a film,but do we zoom in on the mans 'crotch' when he makes a public appearance and make that 'cheap headlines'??!!

I have no issue celebrating my body and I have never shied away from anything on-screen to portray a character. In fact my next character portrayed is a bar dancer (sorry Farah for the spoiler!) who titillates men as a means to support her livelihood. My issue is you propagating the objectification of a REAL person,and not a character being played. Sure,dissect my characters if you wish-if it is of so much interest then discuss the character’s cup size and leg length if it is relevant to making the role convincing. All I am asking for is respect as a woman off-screen.

It is not about breasts,penises,or any other body part being reported.It is a matter of context and how out-of-context the reportage is just to sell a headline. And more so during a time in dire need of an attitude shift towards women.

For me this topic ends here.Everyone is entitled to an opinion.I have little interest to take this further as it might get more attention than it deserves and might be further misconstrued and twisted to sell more undeserved headlines.

Having said that,please may we show love,dignity and respect to each other.

Live well, laugh often and love much.”

But instead of leaving well alone TOI that cannot absolve itself of responsibility for its rather sad entertainment section insisted yet again, "Deepika, we accept your reel vs real argument, but what about all the times, and there have been many, when you have flaunted your body off screen - while dancing on stage, posing for magazine covers, or doing photo ops at movie promotional functions? What 'role' do you play there? So why the hypocrisy.”

This is perhaps the most revealing of all comments by the newspaper for inherent in this are shades of moral policing, as well as the argument of those condoning rape, that if a woman is used to habitual sex she cannot say ‘no’ to sex; or again if a woman is dressed provocatively she can be raped. So just because Padukone has posed for other magazine covers where, according to the newspaper, she has “flaunted” her body, the entertainment journalists are justified in carrying a photograph with the taunting headline?

The “Dear Deepika, our Response….” carried by the newspaper again says it is not supportive of moral policing but in the nuances and the comments does exactly that. As it states rather crudely one must add, “Deepika, who began her career as a 'calendar girl' for a liquor brand, has written, ''Yes we marvel, envy and drool over a male actors 8pack abs in a film, but do we zoom in on the mans 'crotch' when he makes a public appearance and make that 'cheap headlines'??!!'' Deepika, just for the record, we do not zoom into a woman's vagina or show her nipples. As a newspaper, we take every care to ensure that we pixelate them if they show up in a picture, but your cleavage is as sexy as Shah Rukh Khan's '8-pack' abs. Given the nature of the online media worldwide, there could well have been a story headlined, "OMG...Shah Rukh's 8-pack sexy abs!!!"

Apart from demonstrating the level of entertainment journalism promoted and supported by a ‘responsible’ newspaper this report accuses the actor of exploiting the story for publicity. And how this has been great publicity for her. It is also for the TOI to enlighten the readers about its own gains from the publicity, and the advertising it has received that can be directly linked to the exchange of words with the actor.

It is an example of journalism that makes journalists ashamed of being in the profession.