Shweta Bachchan Nanda needs her daughter Navya's life back

The daughter of a famous actor, Nanda's letter was a defense against the growing trend of 'paparazzi' on the internet. It is also an insight into the dangers of being associated with fame.

Shriram Iyengar

Navya Naveli Nanda has been the victim of some damaging paparazzi snooping on the internet. Pictures of the young woman's parties and selfies have gone viral, making her a target for all sorts of trolls on the internet. Mom Shweta Bachchan Nanda is having none of it. In an open letter published in DNA, the daughter of Amitabh Bachchan stepped up in defence of her teenage girl. She wrote, "Can my daughter have her life back?" 

From the opening of the letter, Shweta describes the fear of having to watch out for her children, whose innocent joys often turn into scandals in the press. She says "Before I can even click a heart on it in approval, I think... the internet is going to have a field day with this one when they get their hands on it, and they eventually will! I almost pick up the phone to call her and grumble about yet another picture of hers floating all over the net." In an age where privacy is almost improbable, Shweta denies that it is the fault of her daughter.

She says, "his is why… You do not know my daughter, the websites that post her pictures with captions like ‘Navya Nanda HOT pics’ or ‘Navya Nanda parties with friends, WILD’! certainly do not know her either. Nor, might I add, do they have her permission to post her private pictures. She is not a public figure. Yes, she is related to some very famous people, but that is something completely out of her control...She is a teenager, and as most young teens wan't to do, she likes to dress up, hang out with her friends, pose for pictures and yes, go out to parties (she has a deadline and is always home well before it is over). If she finds herself on a beach, she will wear beach-appropriate attire — namely, a swimsuit — as would any young girl anywhere. If there is music, she will dance much like her peers would. She will pout, she will preen, she will hang out with boys — the last time I checked, absolutely normal teenage behaviour!"

As the daughter of one of the most famous personalities in the subcontinent, Amitabh, Shweta certainly has some idea of the troubles her daughter is going through. Neither is Navya Naveli the only star kid to face this trauma. A year ago, Shah Rukh Khan's daughter, Suhana, found the bad side of the Indian paparazzi with pics of her at a beach. In an interview, Khan said, "When my daughter's pictures were splashed everywhere online and when I jumped to get it contained, I wasn't protecting her from the media — I was protecting her from me... It's my stardom that was the reason that picture made it to the news — It wouldn't have if she wasn't the daughter of Shah Rukh Khan." 

The other issue that got Shweta's goat was the ability of the media to access her daughter's pictures from private sources. She wrote, "Most importantly all of her social media accounts are private and she is not on Twitter. So, it begs the question, how do her pictures land up all over the internet? Here is how. Websites with a keen interest in Bollywood and its goings-on, make fake identities (mostly in the names of her friends) and send requests to anyone following her and often to her as well. They then plunder the accounts of her friends and use their photos to post on their websites captioning them irresponsibly and disrespectfully, most of them stop short of objectifying and shaming her. This has been happening with my daughter since she was 13 years old!!"

"My daughter Navya likes reading, the Kardashians, rajma chawal, curling up next to her Naani while watching TV, teasing her brother and counselling her friends when their hearts are broken. She doesn’t have any particular interest in acting or pursuing a career in acting as of now. She is generous and kind and bright, but these attributes don’t make fetching headlines! Do the adults who run these sites even know how invasive and inappropriate what they are doing, is? Do they even care? And would they like it if this happened to their children?", Shweta went on to add. She warned the online media that such practices only affirm the lack of ethics in the online paparazzi. She wrote, "As a parent, I sit helpless. Unable to plug the flow of this filth that is distributed in the name of information and journalism, and all in the pursuit of hits and likes, leading to some kind of monetisation. In effect, they profit off pictures stolen from my daughter’s life. If there is rock- bottom, this would be it." 

A columnist, daughter of Amitabh, grand daughter of the legendary journalist Tarun Bhaduri, Shweta certainly knows about ethics and the ideals of journalism. The letter comes as a sign of growing dissent among celebrities about the media. Hopefully, the media will listen.