Dear Kriti Sanon,
Firstly, it’s great what you’ve made out of yourself. It isn’t easy to create for oneself the kind of name and fame you have established being an outsider. To be very honest, I haven’t watched any of your films except Bareilly Ki Barfi and I really loved you in it, but the respect I had for you is no more, I am sorry. And you need to blame no one but yourself for this.
In your own words, “I’m not someone who gets angry easily, but when I read about atrocities against women, it really upsets me.” This basically means that you believe in women empowerment and feminism, that if given the opportunity, you would like to bring patriarchy to its end. Right? So, you talk about the empowerment of one race, in an interview, and for the same interview, click a picture that violates animal rights? Please tell me, if you cannot protect the rights of the wild, how do you imagine, in your wildest dreams, that you talking about empowerment is the right thing to do? When you cannot foresee the repercussions of posing with a dead giraffe, which by the way is an endangered species, an animal which is mute, how will you listen to the voices of the hundreds of women you wish to empower through your work? Keep aside these hundreds of women for a second, and tell me, how do you wish to empower yourself when this is what you believe in?
And then, because of the backlash you, and the concerned magazine, Cosmopolitan India, receive, the following statement is added to the caption of this picture:
PS: Aynhoe Park features taxidermy, hundreds of years old, most from museums. Taxidermy is the art of preserving an animal that died of natural causes, for academic purposes. The giraffe featured here is floating (not hanging, heavens no!) with balloons on its back. An art installation, in what is possibly one of the eclectic yet most majestic mansions in the world.
PPS: Cosmo loves, no, is obsessed with animals. We were, possibly, the first magazine in India to ban the featuring of fur, three years ago. No animals were harmed before, during, or after this shoot. We may be guilty of watching too many puppy videos during work hours, though.
The very caption states that the purpose of taxidermy is “academic”. These aren’t my words, but yours (or the magazine’s). Please explain to me, how is this, in any way academic? A lot of us know what taxidermy is but let’s give you (and the magazine) the benefit of the doubt. Let us consider that no one knows what taxidermy is. Let us assume that we will believe in whatever way you explain its meaning to us. Even then, you cannot justify this photograph. The ‘floating’ giraffe is floating there for ‘academic purposes’ (I am using words that are used by you, and the magazine). Tell me, not in too much detail, what academic work are you doing in this photograph?
Again, the giraffe sure is a product of taxidermy, but what about the apocalyptic nature of the photograph. And then, you go out in the media and say “It’s all false, I love animals.” Firstly, no, it’s not false. It is a real animal that died a natural death and has become a victim of taxidermy (for the right ‘academic’ reasons). And secondly, I don’t see your love for animals here.
Your aim may be to be the best at what you do, and why should it be anything else! And when you are in that position, people always look up to you, and children want to grow up and be like you. Correct? Forget this hypothetical scenario for a moment. Today, there are leading ladies, who have been in this industry for a longer period of time than you have and have a larger fan following. Also correct? So let’s take the live example of you and your 12.5M followers only on Instagram. I am not even counting Twitter and Facebook, or those of the magazine. Out of this 12.5M, let’s assume 500K followers are young girls who look up to you and want to be like you one day. What is the message you are giving them through this photograph? In what way does this look like an act of heroism?
Miss Sanon, today you’re in a position of power. You have the opportunity to change mindsets for a better tomorrow. You have it in your hand to empower these 500K young girls who will follow the trends you set. So I ask you, is this the trend you want to set? I know “no animals were harmed during the making of this photograph” but more that the photograph, it is about what are you trying to tell. And if you think this is something very aesthetically pleasing, you need to rethink your idea of aesthetics, because an endangered species floating in the air is not my idea of aestheticism. And neither is this something that should go down in History. At least I will not want it to be a part of my History…
Below is an image of Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, in the exact same place as she shot for Ralph & Russo. Mrs Ahuja, I’d ask you all the questions I asked Kriti Sanon. Hopefully I, and many other ‘really concerned’ people will get at least some, if not all, of the answers…