Image of Bikini-Clad Actress Leads to Charges of Defamation

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The very first issue of Maxim India has managed to spawn national controversy by including a doctored photo that appeared to show a popular Indian actress -- who generally goes by only one name, Khushboo -- in a bikini.

Much of India is rapidly adopting Western culture, but it remains home to many traditionalists who frown on sexual displays, drinking alcohol and, well, Western culture. And though Khushboo Sundar was herself attacked by conservatives after remarking that educated men should not expect virgin brides, she said the mock photo in Dennis Publishing’s Maxim India was too much. Police in at least one city, Chennai, told reporters that they had confiscated what copies they could find.

Defamation suit
“The magazine’s publisher telephoned me to apologize and also promised to meet me and discuss some settlement,” Khushboo told Reuters. “He has not kept his word. I will not accept any out-of-court settlement now and will file a defamation suit against Maxim.”

But executives at Dennis Publishing, which has launched 31 editions of Maxim around the world, said Maxim will still fly in India.

“This is a rather strange one-off incident,” said Stephen Colvin, president-CEO, the U.S. arm of Dennis. “It is an obvious parody piece and parody has always been alive and well in India.” Mr. Colvin pointed out that the photo appeared in a section titled “Women you will never see in Maxim -- 100% fake,” but said Maxim India did, in fact, apologize immediately. “Nobody at Dennis Publishing or Maxim India has received any kind of legal papers regarding this situation.”

The second issue went on sale this week.

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