Bollywood Star Courts Prohibitionists' Wrath

21 February 2007

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Kerala: An Indian superstar actor has come under fire from prohibitionists in Kerala state for appearing in whisky advertisements. They claim Mohanlal's violation of a ban on such ads will increase the already high consumption of liquor in the region.

The ban is in place across the subcontinent, forcing alcoholic drinks makers to use subtle (or otherwise) tactics to get their messages across. Mohanlal's television commercials and billboard posters have shown the award-winning actor munching on banana chips - a favourite snack with drinkers - and asking, pointedly: "What's up this evening?"

Posters inside bars and hotels have been more explicit and show the star in cap and dinner suit, sitting at a table with a plate full of banana chips and a bottle of branded whisky.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Foundation claims the brand's sales have risen since the ads appeared.

The organization has written a letter to Mohanlal's parents, wife and children urging them to convince the actor that promoting alcohol is not socially responsible.

It also wants him to return a prestigious citizenship award because, it says, he is setting a bad example to ordinary people.

The star himself appears unflustered by the furore, insisting campaigners could find better things to do with their time such as tackling roadside garbage. He also believes it is unfair to put the spotlight on him when other Indian actors are doing similar endorsements on TV.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff