Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has severed ties with Pan Masala company ‘Kamala Pasand’, days after the commercial was aired and he received extensive backlash from the public. Reportedly, Amitabh in his blog claimed that he was not aware of the ‘tobacco’ product he was advertising. However, when he came to know about it, he terminated the contract and returned the money.
“Upon checking why this sudden move – it was revealed that when Mr Bachchan became associated with the brand, he wasn’t aware that it falls under surrogate advertising.” read the blog.
Anti-tobacco organisations at Amitabh’s tail
Amitabh’s contract termination comes weeks after the national anti-tobacco organisation requested him to refrain from endorsing pan masala as it could help prevent youngsters from getting addicted to tobacco.
In a letter to Bachchan, Shekhar Salkar, President, National Organisation for Eradication of Tobacco had remarked that medical research has proved that addiction to tobacco and pan masala decays the health of the citizens, especially the youth. Since he (Bachchan) is the government brand ambassador for the high-profile pulse polio campaign, he should drop out from the pan masala ads as soon as possible.
“As an oncologist and member of an NGO working in the field of tobacco cessation, I am aggrieved and provoked to wage war against the dubious measures, such embellishment done by various influential and famous Bollywood actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh and Hrithik Roshan, leading to increased tobacco use among students,” the letter read.
Celebrities like Amitabh have a countrywide reach. Their followers are often impressionable and try to ape their idols. The ill-effects of Pan Masala and other carcinogenic tobacco products have been well documented and yet Amitabh and other actors continue to promote them.
It is pertinent to note that ‘surrogate advertising’ is a form of advertising in which banned products, such as cigarettes and tobacco, are promoted in the disguise of another product. Often, the pan masala becomes ‘silver coated elaichi’ (cardamom), whereas Music CD’s and other non-alcoholic beverages become the front for alcohol advertisements.
Cute of Amitabh Bachchan that he wasn’t aware of the product advertised
Mr Bachchan claiming that he wasn’t aware of the product he was advertising is rich and cute considering he must have signed all the requisite contracts himself after carefully going through it.
Moreover, any layman, over the years, watching such fancy surrogate advertisements on television understands what product these pan masala brands are trying to sell. And if, for the sake of argument, we give leeway to the senior actor, couldn’t the Bollywood megastar figure out what he was shooting for whilst being on the set? By portraying himself as a simpleton, Amitabh is merely attempting to keep the gullible netizens away.
A number of A-list celebrities across the country endorse such brands. No one is forcing Amitabh to give up the brand as he is well within his rights to play ball for them. After all, at the end of the day, even Big B needs money to keep his household running.
However, it’s deceitful if he tries to portray himself as the aggrieved party here. Amitabh made the bed with tobacco brand and thus when terminating the contract, he should have had the moral decency to state that he made an error in judgement and that he should have made better choices. By giving an amateurish reason, he has done more damage to his brand.