Big B advertises Kerala shopping festival after earlier snub

Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly a year after the CPI-M central leadership shot down a proposal to make Amitabh Bachchan brand ambassador of Kerala tourism, the Bollywood icon is the star of a commercial advertising a state sponsored shopping festival.

The advertisement to mark the inaugural of the fourth edition of the 46-day Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) includes a scene from military thriller `Kandahar`, starring Bachchan and Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.

The commercial is termed, "an advertisement done for Kerala Government by Lt Col Dr Mohanlal and Ashirwad Max Lab Films."

It shows Mohanlal, who is a Lt Colonel in Territorial Army, in military uniform with Bachchan in civilian clothes.

Earlier,the CPI-M central leadership had stopped the state Tourism Department`s move to make Bachchan its brand ambassador on the ground that he had signed a similar contract for Gujarat with the Narendra Modi Government.

Asked about the ad, a GKSF official said it was released by Ashirwad Films, one of the main sponsors of the event and the organisers were bound by contract to, "issue any creative matter released by them (Ashirwad)."

The office of state Tourism Minister, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, said the Government is not directly involved with the advertisement.

"It is a mere coincidence that the next film of Ashirwad happens to be Kandahar in which Bachchan appears in a lead role," a spokesman for the minister said.

"Linking the earlier episode with the current event would only create unnecessary controversies, in which we are not interested," he said.

About a year ago, Bachchan had stated his readiness to be the brand ambassador for Kerala during a TV interview. Taking a cue from it, Balakrishnan, who is also CPI-M polit bureau member, wrote to Bachchan inviting him for the assignment.

The proposal, however, came under sharp attack from pro-Left cultural circles. With the issue snowballing into a controversy, senior CPI-M leader Sitharam Yechury openly commented against the decision, following which the proposal was shelved.

The GKSF is touted as a major shopping festival to attract both domestic and foreign visitors to buy a variety of things in shops across the state. Over 6000 traders had joined the event, offering various rebates and prizes including 101 Kg of gold.

Organised in partnership with Tourism department, the event had a turnover of Rs 4000 crore last year and it was targetted to increase this year to Rs 5000 crore.

PTI

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