Rashmika Mandanna deepfake video: Mrunal Thakur, Naga Chaitanya demand action

Bollywood actress Mrunal Thakur. File photo

Bollywood actress Mrunal Thakur. File photo
| Photo Credit: AFP

Actors Mrunal Thakur, Naga Chaitanya and singer Chinmayi Sripada are the latest cinema personalities to voice support for Rashmika Mandanna after the Pushpa: The Rise star’s deepfake video went viral on social media over the weekend.

Mandanna’s Goodbye co-star Amitabh Bachchan was the first to react after a fact checker posted the deepfake clip along with the original video of a British-Indian social media personality Zara Patel and emphasised the need for a legal and regulatory framework to deal with deepfakes in India.

Thakur praised Mandanna for speaking up and urged people to not be silent spectators as morphed videos of female actors float around on the internet zooming inappropriately on body parts.

“Thank you @rashmika_mandanna for speaking up, for addressing this issue that so far we have seen glimpses of but a lot of us chose to remain silent… Where are we heading as a community, as a society? “We may be actresses in the ‘limelight’ but at the end of the day each one of us are human. Why aren’t we talking about it? Don’t remain silent, now is not the time,” Thakur wrote on her Instagram Story.

On Monday, Mandanna wrote a lengthy note on the microblogging site X, saying she was “really hurt” to see the video, which shows a woman, dressed in a black workout onesie, stepping inside an elevator. Patel’s face was morphed using artificial intelligence (AI) to resemble the actor.

“Today as a woman and as an actor, I am thankful for my family, friends and well wishers who are my protection and support system.

“But if this happened to me when I was in school or college, I genuinely can’t imagine how could I ever tackle this. We need to address this as a community and with urgency before more of us are affected by such identity,” Mandanna further said in her post.

Deepfake is a digital method where users can replace one person’s likeness convincingly with that of another using AI technology.

Patel, on whose body Mandanna’s face was morphed, also condemned the deepfake video and said she had “no involvement” with the clip.

“Hi all, it has come to my attention that someone created a deepfake video using my body and a popular Bollywood actress’s face. I had no involvement with the deepfake video, and I’m deeply disturbed and upset by what is happening (sic)” the model wrote on her Instagram Story on Monday night.

“I worry about the future of women and girls who now have to fear even more about putting themselves on social media. Please take a step back and fact-check what you see on the internet. Not everything on the internet is real. I’m deeply upset by what is happening,” Patel added in her post.

Chaitanya said it was disheartening to see how technology is being misused and the thought of what this can progress to in the future is even scarier.

“Action has to be taken and some kind of law has to be enforced to protect people who have and will be a victim to this. Strength to you,” he wrote in his reply to Mandanna’s X post.

In her post, Chinmayi described deepfake as “the next weapon” to target and blackmail girls in India.

“Loan apps harass women borrowers with photoshopped images of their faces over porn photos and they cant deal with that. But a Deep Fake is going to be tougher for the usual untrained eye to spot. Everyone doesn’t have high-res displays (sic)” the singer wrote on the microblogging site.

Several months ago, a deepfake clip of actor Simran’s AI avatar performing to “Kaavaalaa” from “Jailer” was circulating online, she added.

“Nobody knows for sure whether Ms Simran had consented in advance to her likeness to be used in the Deep Fake AI rendering of Kaavaalaa. She shared it on her social media pages as well…

“I truly hope there is a nationwide awareness campaign that can kickstart urgently to educate the general public about the dangers of deepfakes for girls and to report incidents instead of taking matters into their own hands,” Chinmayi further said.

Mandanna later thanked Bachchan for standing up for her, adding, “I feel safe in a country with leaders like you.” She also thanked Chaitanya and Chinmayi.

“Thank you … for creating awareness on this hoping strict action is taken and regulated guidelines are put into place,” the actor wrote on X.

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