Last December, Ram Gopal Varma AKA RGV broke Indian Twitter ever since he went down on one foot and ended up kissing and licking the feet of ex-Bigg Boss contestant and actress Ashu Reddy. Now, he has re-shared that viral video yet again as a part of his ongoing feud with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) spokesperson Budda Venkanna.
Why is RGV fighting with a politician now? No stranger to controversy, Ram Gopal Varma expressed his disappointment with actor and Jana Sena Party leader Pawan Kalyan joining hands with Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP supremo and current leader of opposition in Andhra Pradesh.
In a Telugu tweet on January 9, the controversial Bollywood and Tollywood director threw in a caste angle, saying that Kalyan sold his Kapu identity (a Forward Caste from Andhra with some sections appealing for OBC status) to join with the Kammas (another Forward Caste with which Naidu associates himself).
This is when Venkanna joined the conversation, saying that Varma should probably just keep shut and stick to his “lustful legs”. This only prompted RGV to reply again, this time with a video of him licking Ashu Reddy’s feet with a Telugu caption that roughly translates to,
Why did RGV lick Ashu’s feet in the first place? Ashu Reddy was interviewing RGV for his film Dangerous that had a limited release in December. If you are not acquainted with Dangerous, it is RGV’s foray into “queer cinema” as the film was marketed as "India's first lesbian crime/action film". While netizens have been wary of his ability to write female characters, the IMDb synopsis of Dangerous is worth mentioning:
So, while Reddy was asking RGV questions regarding his film for a press event, erotic themes were bound to arise. As the director began delving into how men should worship women, he decided to put his words to action and went ahead to indulge in some feet-licking in front of the media.
Was this public display of foot fetish consensual? Questions of consent are bound to arise in this situation but it seems like the moment was scripted or consented to by Reddy as the actress herself shared the videos of her Instagram with the caption, “A man's worship is countless, endless and often DANGEROUS..!! 3Million + views and counting!!”
But what exactly is a foot fetish, or podophilia? In layman terms, podophilia or foot fetish refers to the sexual attraction towards feet.
RGV and Tarantino are podophiles: Much like American director-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino (whom RGV seems to have modelled his early crime drama career on), the Indian filmmaker seems to be quite the podophile (podo not pedo if you didn’t read carefully). It is something which Tarantino has never shied away from showing on screen.
In almost all of his films ranging from Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill, one can spot zoomed-in shots of the bare feet of his female characters. It all started with Uma Thurman's feet in Pulp Fiction.
and then there was the "foot fest" that was Death Proof.
Even Tarantino's latest feature Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a culprit.
When Tarantino acted in the thriller From Dusk Till Dawn, he even managed to kiss and lick Salma Hayek’s feet!
Not to kink-shame Tarantino, but several observers have found his foot shots to be unnecessary while others find him to be somewhat creepy for his fetish. Defending himself and his podophilia, Tarantino mentioned in a GQ interview how other renowned directors have also relied on excessive foot shoots.
From RGV’s video, it seems like he too might be following Tarantino’s footsteps (bad pun intended) joining other famous podophiles such as painter Andy Warhol, popstar Britney Spears, serial killer Ted Bundy, and even Crime and Punishment author Fyodor Dostoevsky for some reason!
me, at a book store: do you want to know why they sometimes spell 'dostoyevsky' as 'dostoevsky'?— birds (@emergencybirdss) July 27, 2019
my dad: why
me: bc dostoyevsky had a foot fetish
my dad: does not talk to me the rest of the time we are there
RGV’s career is in an absurd erotic phase: Once considered a visionary with crime dramas like Shiva and Satya, Varma’s career has recently been on a downward slope with the director having a particular obsession with poorly-written takes on female sexuality. Some prominent examples include the short film Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chaahti Hai in which a girl asserts her desire to become a pornographic actress.
In the English short film God, Sex and Truth, he managed to feature real-life pornstar Mia Malkova in the lead role with some concerningly bizarre lines such as “put your finger in my a**s and smell it”. Another weird detail: MM Keeravani who recently won the Golden Globe for RRR’s Naatu Naatu scored the film music!
And now, with Dangerous’s story of “women becoming lesbian because they aren’t satisfied by men”, Varma has become quite “dangerous” for Indian cinema. It won’t be surprising if his next film would be a strange take on his publicised foot fetish.