FHM India's December issue features a cover pic of Pakistani actress and reality TV star Veena Malik in her birthday suit, leg and arms strategically placed to cover up her most special places. Malik claims she was digitally undressed—but is she trying to cover up the truth (cue suspenseful sound effect)?
Malik asserts that FHM "doctored" the cover shot to make her look naked (temporary Inter-Services Intelligence agency tattoo not withstanding) and is now suing the magazine for $2 million. Malik's spokesperson told The Express Tribune that Malik "denies this shoot. These pictures have never been taken." Meanwhile, her lawyer says the starlet wore underpants during the shoot and "has not posed in the manner in which she has been shown"; the panties disappeared due to "tampering." If these allegations are true, the magazine should not only lose its millions but have its Photoshop privileges revoked.
Now the weird part: FHM editor Kabeer Sharma says video footage of the photo shoot proves that Malik was in fact naked the whole time she was posing. They've decided not to release the video to the public due to its "nature," but say they are considering a countersuit. We're not familiar with India's rules of evidence, but we can't imagine that FHM could successfully lodge a counterclaim without producing the video at trial. (If they're lying about its existence, they probably shouldn't sue unless they want to completely humiliate themselves.)
Why would Malik pose naked then deny it? A cynic might say she's taking a page from the American celebrity playbook and creating a controversy in order to draw attention to herself. However, she might just be responding to all the extreme and extremist reactions people have had to her photograph—including downright frightening ones. The Taliban has sent her death threats, and her father wants her arrested. Meanwhile, Pakistani government officials outraged by the photos (and, one presumes, Malik's willingness to challenge conservative views of how women should behave) say they might revoke Malik's citizenship, criminally charge her, or ban her from the country—but first they have to figure out if the pictures are authentic. As Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik points out, "You know, there are so many pictures of me in the newspapers where I am shown riding a donkey and we know it is not me. They just fix my head on any picture." (See, you're not the only person who has that problem!)
Malik isn't the first actress to accuse FHM of photo tampering. Indian actress Kajal Agarwal made a similar claim regarding a "topless" photo of her that ran on the magazine's September issue cover. Sounds suspicious!