Bollywood biggies invite legal trouble for endorsing tobacco brands
Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, and Ranveer Singh have found themselves entangled in controversy. Amid the ongoing debate surrounding tobacco advertisements, a case has been registered against the four actors in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, for promoting "gutkha." Recently, Tollywood star Mahesh Babu was also bashed online for his association with such brands. Meanwhile, netizens had mixed reactions to the latest news.
- Bollywood actors have repeatedly earned public ire for promoting different gutkha brands and misdirecting the country's youth.
- Out of the aforementioned actors, Devgn has been torn apart the most due to his long-running association with one tobacco company.
- In April, Akshay Kumar had also appeared in one such advertisement but publicly apologized and quashed the endorsement deal because of the strong opposition.
Based on social activist Tamanna Hashmi's complaint, a case was filed under Sections 467, 468, 439, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. These sections refer to "forgery of valuable security," criminal conspiracy, and "forgery for the purpose of cheating." Under Section 439, a person can be jailed for up to 10 years for "intentionally running a vessel aground/ashore with intent to commit theft."
The charge sheet filed before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate states that the actors are "misusing their popularity for promoting gutkha only in greed of money," per Times Now. Reportedly, the court has accepted the case and the hearing is scheduled to take place on May 27. Separately, Hashmi has filed complaints against BJP politicians Amit Shah, Harsh Vardhan, and Santosh Gangwar before.
The news has divided social media into two factions. While some have welcomed the case, others believe the actors are being framed unnecessarily. "For all actors, it's about money," commented a Twitter user. Another netizen echoed their thoughts, "The actors' hunger for money never subsides." However, one user wrote that since the product specifies it is harmful, one should look out for one's health.
In October 2021, amid much uproar, Big B had called off his deal with a tobacco company. As per his team's statement, "When Mr. Bachchan became associated with the brand, he wasn't aware it falls under surrogate advertising." Reportedly, the Padma Shri awardee had also written to the brand about the termination of their association and returned the promotion money he received.