BUSAN, South Korea (AFP) - Indian director Homi Adajania has thrown his support behind Bollywood star Deepika Padukone in her spat with a leading newspaper over remarks it made about her cleavage on social media.
Last month the Times of India posted a link on Twitter to a year-old clip of Padukone which was shot from above, adding the caption "OMG! Deepika Padukone's cleavage show."
The post sparked furious debate about media standards across traditionally conservative India, and Bollywood stars rushed to offer their support to the 28-year-old Padukone.
"At some level you have to realise that your 'star' is a human being and needs to be given that respect," said Adajania, speaking at the Busan International Film Festival on Sunday. "If a person like Deepika didn't draw the line now, where will it go?" he added, describing such coverage as "totally ruthless".
Padukone has starred in blockbuster Bollywood hits such as Om Shanti Om (2007) and Chennai Express, as well as Adajania's latest feature Finding Fanny.
The Times of India post had brought an immediate response from the actress, who has 7.5 million followers on Twitter. She replied: "YES! I am a woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??"
India's highly competitive media market has increasingly turned to lurid headlines and the use of social media to attract readership and revenue but Adajania said it was an issue that had to be tackled in the country.
"I think Deepika was totally right in standing up for what she stood up for but if you get into mud-slinging it dilutes the issue," said the director. "I wish this was a topic that we just didn't have to discuss and I hope that is one day the case again."
Adajania has brought his English-language road-trip comedy Finding Fanny to Busan and the 42-year-old director said the film was directed towards an evolving audience for Indian films, both at home and abroad.
"There is a change coming about," he said. "You couldn't have made a film like Finding Fanny 10 years ago - in English with a narrative that doesn't follow Bollywood traditions.
"You will always have a massive audience that wants films following the Bollywood tradition of singing and dancing and romance but what we have found is there is an audience there who wants something different as well."
The Busan festival runs until October 11.