Bollywood heavyweights Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgn have found themselves in a legal bind as the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) served them notices over their involvement in a controversial advertisement for the pan masala brand Vimal.
CCPA’s Legal Action Following Public Outcry
The legal notices were issued following a contempt petition by Advocate Motilal Yadav, who argued that the actors, all recipients of the prestigious Padma awards, were promoting harmful habits like tobacco chewing through their endorsement. The notices were dispatched on October 20, as informed by SB Pandey, the Deputy Solicitor General, to the Lucknow bench led by Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan.
Delayed Government Response Leads to Contempt Petition
Despite the initial petition filed on October 22, the government’s lack of action prompted the filing of a contempt petition. This legal move underscores the growing concern over celebrity endorsements of products potentially harmful to public health.
Akshay Kumar’s Apology and Subsequent Backlash
The controversy intensified a few months ago, particularly for Akshay Kumar, who faced significant criticism. Kumar had previously apologized to his fans and vowed to cease endorsing the brand. However, the airing of the Vimal ad during the India vs Australia ICC Men’s World Cup match reignited public outrage.
Kumar’s Response to Media Speculation
In response to the backlash and media speculation, Akshay Kumar took to X (formerly Twitter) to clarify his position. He emphasized that the ads were shot on October 13, 2021, and he had disassociated from the brand following his public announcement to stop the endorsement. Kumar’s statement aimed to set the record straight, highlighting that the brand could legally run the already shot ads until the end of the following month.
The Impact on Bollywood’s Image
This incident raises questions about the role of celebrities in influencing public behavior and the ethical responsibilities that come with their influential status. The legal scrutiny faced by these Bollywood stars serves as a reminder of the impact of their endorsements on consumer behavior and public health.
Looking Forward: The Role of Celebrity Endorsements
As the situation unfolds, it brings to light the need for more stringent guidelines and ethical considerations in celebrity endorsements, especially in sectors sensitive to public health. The Bollywood industry, known for its massive influence, faces a critical moment in reassessing the impact of its stars’ endorsements.