On 14 September, Sunday the Times of India tweeted: "OMG: Deepika Padukone's cleavage show", along with a link to the related story dedicated to the actress’s cleavage, first published in 2013 and since deleted. The tweet featured a video clip, in which a cameraman had zoomed in on her chest from above.
The Bollywood actress - along with numerous Twitter users - criticised the publication in several tweets and a Facebook post, in which she suggested that the media blurs the lines between what’s "reel and real", alluding to her on-screen and off-screen personas, to create "cheap headlines".
"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," she said.
"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."
She accused the media of highlighting women’s sexuality in a way that their male counterparts don’t have to contend with.
"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'??!!" she asked.
The Times of India initially addressed the actress’s original criticism by telling her that she should be flattered by the comment.
"It's a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)" read the tweet.
But the publication has now published a detailed response on its website, suggesting that the 28-year-old only raised the issue to publicise her newly released film, Finding Fanny .
It branded her a "hypocrite" for appearing in magazine photoshoots "far more revealing than the above video which she tweeted against".
The story was featured a series of the images with the intention of proving its point.
"Deepika kept silent over this video for one year and chose to raise a furor and suddenly felt 'violated' only during the release of her movie Finding Fanny," said writer Priya Gupta.
"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?"
The writer admits that while "the headline could have been better", in online journalism "sensational headlines are far from uncommon".
"We have always campaigned against the moral police," wrote Gupta. "We believe there's no shame in Deepika showing off her body, but does she now want us to first check with her as to which pictures of her - taken at public events - we can or cannot publish?
"Are we going to have a parallel censor board for pictures of film stars taken off screen but in plain sight of the world, as Deepika's was?"
Padukone - one of Bollywood’s highest-paid stars - has appeared in films such as the Chennai Express, Om Shanti Om and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.Reuse content