The brand of ‘Ajay Devgn’ has taken a beating in the last 48 hours, after a fan requested him to stop endorsing a tobacco brand. Devgn, who has earlier championed an alcohol brand under the surrogate campaign for a club soda, has been the face of a pan masala that runs a surrogate campaign under ‘mouth freshner cardamom crystals’. With Bollywood’s far-reaching impact on impressionable youngsters across India, it is a moment for those like Devgn to introspect about what they choose to help sell.
But Devgn is hardly the first and won’t be the last Bollywood personnel to endorse tobacco, in spite of its well-known carcinogenic elements. Here’s a list of six if his colleagues from Bollywood, that have previously endorsed tobacco in any form:
1. Priyanka Chopra
Believe it or not, but around the same time that Priyanka Chopra was celebrating the success of her maiden success on an American show, and gearing up for a Hollywood debut, she even chose to be a part of a tobacco brand. Parading it as ‘mouth freshner crystals’, Chopra made even tobacco look desirable.
2. Anushka Sharma
Picking up the baton from Priyanka Chopra, Sharma showcases the ‘independent spirit of a woman’ in this commercial, that ends with her celebrating with similar looking ‘silver-coated cardamom crystals’.
3. Urmila Matondkar
Matondkar, who has clearly shot back into mainstream consciousness after choosing to contest in the ongoing elections for Congress, endorsed 502 Pataka Chai at one point. As it turns out, it was a surrogate campaign for 502 Pataka Bidi, one of the highest selling bidi brands in India.
4. Shah Rukh Khan
The most disappointing part about Shah Rukh Khan endorsing a pan masala brand, was that it was as recent as four years ago. Doing his routine of the romantic hero (even in this commercial), Khan makes tobacco look like the foundation of meaningful relationships. Sigh.
5. Akshay Kumar
In the good ol’ days of a newly liberalised India when there were no regulations over cigarettes and alcohol advertisements, a young Akshay Kumar endorsed a cigarette brand. He endorsed a tobacco brand (as recently as 2016) in an ad replete with rap music, Lamborghinis and pretty women surrounding Kumar. How things have come full circle, where Kumar has now become the face of a campaign that not only discourages smoking, but also advocates the use of sanitary napkins. In the same ad.
6. Saif Ali Khan
Even the Nawab of Pataudi has done it, would you believe it? In the commercial, Saif (oozing royalty) can be seen roaming around in London with a box of pan masala in his hand. Yes, it doesn’t make sense at all. Not sure any of it is supposed to.