Amitabh Bachchan backs out of pan masala ad: Moral implications of celeb ad

Amitabh Bachchan. Image from Twitter.

Amitabh Bachchan. Image from Twitter.

Actor Amitabh Bachchan is winning praise for backing out of a product endorsement deal with Kamala Pasand, a pan masala brand that engages in surrogate advertising and calls itself “silver-coated elaichi”. The advertisement aired last month, in which Bachchan played the father and actor Ranveer Singh played his son. someone likes classical music; second rock. They bond over pan masala.

On October 10, Bachchan posted an announcement on his blog stating that he had terminated his contract with the brand and had returned his money. He claimed that, when he joined them, he was not aware that the ad “belongs to surrogate advertising”. The National Tobacco Elimination Organization (NOTE), which urged Bachchan to back down, has also welcomed his decision.

On 23 October, the Salaam Bombay Foundation – which works with teenagers in Mumbai’s slums – released a video thanking the “Shahenshah of Bollywood”.prompt corrective action In the interest of public health who has set an example for other public figures to follow.” Yesterday, they released a video with a teen thanking the actor “Their concern for the safety of children and youth

Sunny Singh, Professor of Creative Writing and Inclusion in the Arts at London Metropolitan University, has studied Bachchan’s film career and his star personality in the context of cultural events and global branding. This research appears in his book Amitabh Bachchan (2018). She says, “Film stars create and embody stories. His choice of films adds to his public image. What Amitabh Bachchan does and says matters to people because he is one of the world’s most beautiful people.” Long lasting superstars.”

Bachchan was called out by fans who were disappointed to see him lending his name to a pan masala brand. Earlier this year, fans of actor Mahesh Babu were furious with him for endorsing “Paan Bahaar” – which promotes itself as “Heritage Cardamom” and also stars actor Tiger Shroff. Two years ago, a fan of actor Ajay Devgn, who was undergoing treatment for cancer, appealed to him to stop promoting Vimal Elaichi, another brand that is involved in a surrogate advertisement. Unlike Bachchan, these actors have not backed down on their respective support after the backlash from fans.

Singh explains that Bachchan is aware of the fact that stars need to manage their image, so the smart thing to do is to take the feedback seriously. She says, “He hails from an extraordinarily wealthy background, but was able to develop the image of an angry young man. There was internal tension, it broke. He made himself a patriarch and a patriarch with films like Mohabbatein and Kabhie. has re-established itself as a moral authority. Khushi Kabhie Gham, and the hugely successful television show Kaun Banega Crorepati.”

Should film stars think about the moral impact of their advertising on young audiences? Can’t they promote a product simply because it pays well?

Jyotsna Mohan, author of Stoned, Shamed, Depressed: An Explosive Account of the Secret Lives of India’s Teens (2020), argues that young people follow the lives of actors off-screen and want them to talk. If they hear actors “promoting” an issue, and vice versa, they aren’t afraid to call.

She adds, “Honestly speaking, Amitabh Bachchan, Mahesh Babu and Ajay Devgn don’t even need the money that they will get from advertising tobacco products. They should make better choices about the brands they buy from. themselves, especially when they have children and grandchildren of their own.”

What do Indian fans do with such high expectations from their beloved actors? Why do they crave a sense of belonging, connectedness and even intimacy with actors?

Ulka Anjaria, author of Understanding Bollywood: The Grammar of Hindi Cinema (2021), says, “Fandums in India are sometimes seen as unthinkable hero-worship of stars, but this is not a useful way of looking at it. ” She calls Bollywood “the cinema of desire” because it is “less about telling original stories or offering formal innovation, it is about making people laugh, cry, sing as well as make their hearts feel like a song or a theatrical.” It’s about engaging your audience through dialogue.”

According to Anjaria, Professor of English at Brandeis University, Indian audiences view film stars as part of a deeper emotional experience, which blurs the line between the person playing the role and the person playing the role. She adds, “Sometimes, fans project the strong desire of Bollywood on the actors themselves and we can say unrealistic expectations of their works.”

Toru Jhaveri, a brand strategist with roots in social psychology and qualitative research, who led strategy at DDB Mudra West, believes that media, sports and entertainment are “statistics for Indians to put on a pedestal”. There are “natural places” to see. Because families encourage children to find role models and emulate them “to get ahead in life.” These people represent talent and excellence.

She says, “Mr. Bachchan has been a part of the Hindi-speaking consciousness in India, as a man who fought the good fight on screen. With age, he has become like a father figure to Bollywood and beyond. Having become aware of K.’s work. And also had parents or grandparents who were fans of him, most people feel that they have a direct or indirect connection to him. It only intensifies all the guesswork.”

Entertainment writer Aseem Chhabra, who has written biographies of three Indian actors – Irrfan Khan, Shashi Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra – feels it is “a very Asian thing” to idolize film stars in this way. As a festival director at the New York Indian Film Festival, he has noticed this tendency to idolize especially among Indian and Japanese audiences, and not American audiences.

However, Jhaveri argues that this is not just an Indian phenomenon. She says, “In countries like South Korea, celebrities are held to very precise standards of personal and professional conduct. Even in the more permissive culture of the United States, celebrities are asked to do the right thing. is expected to go above and beyond.” She cites the example of comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has faced backlash for “appearing sociable on screen but enabling a difficult working environment on her show”.

Journalist Kaveri Bamzai, author of the book The Three Khans and the Emergence of New India (2021), believes that Indians take the symbol very seriously as there are only a few of them in India. She says, “We feel invested in his stardom as we buy tickets for his films..We believe that we have full rights over him, be it his political opinion, brand choice or social media comments. “

According to Bamzai, a member of the Women’s Empowerment Committee of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the more visible film stars become, the more familiar they become. As a result, consumers feel they should be asked to represent the brand they will consume. “Film stars are expected to run everything from public service advertising for the government to global conglomerates to fast-growing consumer goods,” she says.

The description is fitting for Bachchan, who has endorsed various brands across product categories – including hair oil, incense, chocolate, aerated drinks, rice, diamonds, pens, cement – ​​and in government campaigns to eradicate polio and eye donation. are also included. Also Swachh Bharat and Gujarat Tourism. He also maintains an active social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Jhaveri says, “Mr. Bachchan’s films have done a lot more to build his image than advertising. Credibility, integrity, honesty, righteousness – these values ​​have been attributed to him over the years because of his characters and many rumors and faced scams.” She thinks Bachchan’s decision to back out from Kamala Pasand ad should be viewed in the wider context of celebrities making public commitments about not endorsing products they don’t believe in.

Recalling cricketer Virat Kohli’s decision to refuse to endorse kola and actress Kangana Ranaut’s decision not to endorse fairness creams, Jhaveri says, “Given Mr. Bachchan’s stature and his distaste for tobacco and smoking, this It was only a matter of time. It’s hard to imagine him. A product loyalist, so people see it purely as a monetary transaction. I think he really had no choice but to walk away.”

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