U.S. actresses pose nude at the drop of a hat. No big deal. But this nude shot is a very big political deal. Pakistani actress Veena Malik appears nude on FHM India, an Indian men's magazine's website -- with the initials of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) initials on her arm, a hand grenade in her hand with the pin in her mouth. The photo has caused a loud outcry in her home country for disparaging both Pakistan and Islam.
Now Malik has filed a lawsuit against FHM India. She claims that the naked photo of her was doctored or "morphed." Her lawyers are demanding that the photo not appear on the mag's December cover. They also want the so-called altered photos pulled off the website, and for a very sizable sum (RS 100m, or nearly $2 million) in damages.
The lawsuit notice was issued on Sunday with Maxposure Corporate Media, FHM chief editor Kabeer Sharma and photographer Vishal Saxena named as respondents. The suit also discusses the specifics of what Veena was told about what the photo shoot would consist of and a claim that she "was assured that no nude photograph in any manner would be shot."
But magazine editor Kabeer Sharma argues that Malik gave full consent for the shoot. "We have all the record(s)," he told a Pakistani television station. "Veena was very excited about that ISI idea." He also claims eight people were present and they have video of the photo shoot and emails from her private account confirming the details.
Some critics call her lawsuit a publicity stunt and suggest that her denial is due to fear of more trouble and danger in Pakistan. Rumors also suggest Malik is drumming up publicity for her new Indian realty TV show Swayamwar Season 4, which is a kind of Bachelorette spinoff. Is Veena the Pakistani Kim Kardashian?
Conservative Pakistanis are horrified by the nude photo because they claim it brings shame to the nation. India and Pakistan have fought three bitter, brutal wars, and the Pakistan ISI agency is suspected of terrorist attacks inside India. To say there is ongoing distrust and hatred -- political, religious and cultural -- on both sides is putting it mildly. To fully grasp the uproar, imagine Kim Kardashian posing nude with the tattoo image of Osama Bin Laden on her arm, holding a toy airplane. Now you're getting it.
Malik has broken Pakistani religious and national taboos in the past and is a target for conservative anger while seen as a sexy Jane Fonda-like heroine to Pakistani liberals. Malik does most of her acting work in India. The entertainment sector in that country is booming, while Pakistan's is decidely not.
Her acting career in India has long been condemned by her critics. During a talk show appearance earlier this year, she lashed out at her nemesis, scholar Abdul Qawi, for criticizing her scripted love affair with an Indian actor on an Indian reality show.
"What is your problem with me?" an angry Malik asked Qawi, after he accused her of insulting Islam.
How much time ya got?