The first Indian woman to pose naked for Playboy magazine says she is proud to have “pushed the envelope” in a country where public nudity in any form remains largely taboo.
Minor Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra, 28, will feature in a nude spread in the November issue of the magazine, although her Indian fans will be hard pushed to get hold of a copy.
Playboy, along with a host of other foreign “adult” magazines, is banned in India, which has strict obscenity laws proscribing any public act or published material deemed to be “lascivious or appealing to prurient interests”.
News that Chopra had become India’s first “Playmate” caused quite a stir, fuelled by Chopra herself posting nude out-take pictures from the Playboy shoot on the microblogging site Twitter.
As well as some inevitably lascivious and prurient responses, many Indian Twitter users criticised her decision and accused her of a desperate publicity stunt to further her acting career. She had written to Playboy herself expressing an interest in posing.
“If you consider being the 1st Indian woman to pose for Playboy an ‘achievement,’ you should consider raising your standards,” tweeted @Sunu_K.
In an e-mail interview with AFP, Chopra dismissed her critics and said she considered herself a pioneer for sexual freedom in India.
“I had no apprehensions and have no regrets: just feelings of pure liberation and sheer excitement,” she said of the Playboy shoot in Los Angeles.
“I’m proud to have pushed the envelope and I will not hesitate to lead my life on my terms consistently.”
Chopra’s Bollywood career to date has been decidedly B-list, with bit roles in less than a dozen movies, including the 2003 box-office dud “Dosti” (Friendship) and a film titled “Naughty Boy”.
Her labelling as a “Bollywood legend” on the Playboy website was widely mocked in India, and Chopra admitted it was a “surreal” tag.
“I know that I’m just a girl with big dreams,” she said.
Indian writers, actors and artists who have sought to push the boundaries of traditional Indian morals have sometimes found themselves targeted by conservative religious groups, but Chopra appeared unworried at the prospect of a backlash.
“The moral guardians have never done any real good to me or the society at large,” she said.
“So let them do whatever they are good at while I do what I truly enjoy.”
The publicity generated by Chopra’s shoot has been overshadowed in recent days by the release of what has been billed as one of India’s raunchiest mainstream movies, “Jism 2” (Body 2).
Real-life adult film star Sunny Leone — born in India to Canadian parents — plays a porn actress in the movie, which has stirred controversy with its provocative publicity material and content.
The mayor of Mumbai, Sunil Prabhu, ordered the removal of promotional posters for the film from public buses in India’s entertainment capital after a local legislator complained the image used was obscene.