Pakistani actress Veena Malik has struck back at the furore caused by a recent photoshoot in India’s version of FHM, saying she was “topless” and “covered” but not “nude”.
Malik is seeking $2m in damages from FHM India, alleging that they doctored the images to make her appear naked, claims denied by the magazine. She also claims she was not paid for the photographs and had refused a second offer for a nude photoshoot from another agency.
Speaking to the BBC World Service about the photos Regarding the photos in FHM India magazine, she said: “If you look at my shoot, I do admit that I have done a topless shoot. But it was not that topless – a proportion of the body was covered with my hands,” she said.
“I liked the idea of a bold shoot, but I did not do a nude shoot. I won’t allow anybody to remove my bikini or my shalwar or my dupatta (scarf). If I want to do it, I will do it myself. And if I do it, I will own it,” she added.
Asked about reports that her father has disowned her and has called for her to be punished, Ms Malik said, “My father is angry. They are my family – I love them,” she continued. “Once I am done with this case… I will go back to my family and I will convince them, and I still love them.”
While the photos have attracted widespread criticism in Pakistan many have offered support. Karachi-based journalist and writer Bina Shah told the BBC that criticism of Ms Malik was unfair. “My question to all the men who are so upset about this, is why did you look at the pictures? If it upsets you so much, why did you click on the link? Women’s empowerment is about many more important things – and so is Islam for that matter – so I think we need to all of us grow up and just forget about this controversy”.
Ms Malik defended the images, saying: “If you look at the industry which I am working right now, there are various examples of such shoots – it’s not that I am the first one who has done it. Why is sexuality such a big problem? Are we actually grown up? Are we still living in the jungles?” she said.
The photo on the cover of December’s edition of FHM was also controversial because it shows Ms Malik with the letters ISI – Pakistan’s intelligence service – printed on the top of one of her arms.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this week, the editor of FHM India Kabeer Sharma said the ISI tattoo was intended as a playful joke.
He also said the magazine has video evidence which proves the images from the photoshoot were not tampered with.
Veena Malik has been at the centre of controversy before.
She caused outrage among conservative circles in Pakistan for appearing on the Indian reality show Bigg Boss in 2010. She hit the headlines again in March this year by challenging the views of a Pakistani cleric on television.
– Vijitha Alles / Reports