Why a series of Indian actresses have been arrested for prostitution.

What women really think about news, politics, and culture.
Sept. 8 2010 11:17 AM

Do Bollywood Brothels Exist?

Why a series of Indian actresses have been arrested for prostitution.

(Continued from Page 1)

The fate of the latest actresses to be caught in between these two intertwined worlds is still unknown. In an industry that encourages endless re-invention, this will likely not be the last we hear of them. Followers of Indian film news may recall how the tides turned for Bhuvaneswari, a Kollywood actress who was arrested twice (in 2002 and 2009) for prostitution. After the first arrest, she managed to convince her fans of her innocence and so continued acting until she was arrested for prostitution a second time. Instead of adopting a lower profile after the arrest, the actress surprised many by accepting a position within the All-India Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam (MMK), a political party whose leadership she was close to.

To the dismay of many, the feisty actress also decided that if her past was going to be exposed, she was going to drag others into the mud, too. She drew up a long list of fellow actresses she claimed were also selling sex, although the veracity of her claims was disputed. Bhuvaneswari also told the media that she was working on an autobiography, expected to blow the lid off the shady dealings of the film industry. Whether the details prove true or not, her story will no doubt only further fuel the fantasies.

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Correction, Sept. 8, 2010: This article originally contained a photograph of longtime Bollywood actress Saira Banu, who has no connection to the arrest of a younger Tollywood actress of the same name. The photograph has been removed.

Amana Fontanella-Khan is a Brussels-based writer. She is the author of the forthcoming book Pink Sari Revolution (W.W Norton, August). Follow her on Twitter @AmanaFK.

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