MUMBAI: Veena Malik has filed a defamation suit against an Indian magazine for a “morphed” cover photo of her posing nude with the initials of Pakistan’s intelligence agency on her arm.
Malik’s spokesman, Sohail Rasheed, said on Monday that the actress was seeking 100 million rupees ($2 million) in damages from FHM India, which insists the nude cover shoot was genuine and consensual.
“The picture has been morphed,” Rasheed said in Islamabad, adding that the magazine had targeted Malik’s “credibility and character”.
“Veena Malik never indulged in nudity and has no intention to do it in future,” he added.
The magazine’s December issue only hit news stands on Monday afternoon, but a weekend preview of the cover on its website triggered a media frenzy.
FHM India editor Kabeer Sharma told AFP that he was mystified by Malik’s allegations.
“Maybe she is facing some kind of backlash, so maybe that’s why she is denying it.
“We have not photo-shopped or faked the cover. This is what she looks like, she has an amazing body,” Sharma said.
In his Twitter feed on Monday, Sharma said he would release a series of photos from the shoot proving his version of the story.
While Malik’s pose on the cover preserves a scant degree of modesty, any nudity is still very much frowned upon in conservative India — and indeed in Muslim-majority Pakistan.
What has raised more eyebrows was her arm sporting the initials ISI — the acronym for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have gone to war three times and the ISI has been routinely accused by New Delhi of masterminding militant attacks on Indian soil.
Sharma said the idea had been to take an ironic swipe at India’s obsession with the ISI.
A tag line on the cover that points to the initials, reads: “Hand in the end of the world too?”
“People, especially young people in both countries, want to move past this kind of thinking,” the editor said.
“It’s a very powerful picture — it took a lot of guts for her to do that. It shows a powerful, sexy woman not afraid to speak her mind.”
Another picture on the inside of the magazine — entitled “the cover we didn’t use” — showed a topless Malik, again with the ISI tattoo, biting the pin of a hand grenade.
The photo has so far garnered little interest in Pakistan, but has incurred the wrath of her father, who said he had disowned her over her scandalous work in arch-foe India, which had “humiliated” the family, the country, and Islam.
Weeping, retired soldier Malik Mohammad Aslam, 56, told AFP: “I have disowned her, I have severed all ties with her and I don’t want her to have any share in whatever meagre assets I have until she is cleared of the controversy and pledges not to visit India again.”
Aslam said he did not support his daughter’s showbiz career and said he hoped the authorities would punish his daughter if found guilty of posing nude: “so that no other woman would think of doing such thing”.
“I can ignore if she disobeys me but I cannot tolerate anything against my country and my faith,” he said.
The actress is already well known in India for appearing on “Bigg Boss”, the country’s version of the television reality show “Big Brother”.
She incurred the wrath of hardline Islamic clerics in Pakistan for her performance on the show, during which she indulged in several intimate scenes with Indian actor Ashmit Patel that included massaging his head and neck.