Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Amitabh short sells Uttar Pradesh

The Congress Party has sought the Election Commission's intervention in banning advertisements, featuring superstar Amitabh Bachchan that glorify governance in Uttar Pradesh. In a series of advertisements carried out in print and electronic media, Bachchan has been highlighting the achievements of the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government. "Uttar Pradesh mein hai dum, kyunki jurm yahan hain kam," the latest advertisement says. But to hear Amitabh Bachchan spout aloud ever so often from television screens that the people of Uttar Pradesh are the most blessed because they have the peace to sleep blissfully at night and that only rumor mongers talk about any jurm in Uttar Pradesh because there isn’t any can impress only the most credulous. Who ever decided that such advertisements should be aired on news channels like NDTV , where minutes after the advertisement has run , news will appear of this sort “Criminals dominate Uttar Pradesh politics” and then “Unchecked abductions in Uttar Pradesh” has to have taken leave of his senses. As for people sleeping well and peacefully, here is another news item, again from NDTV-“Power shortage in Uttar Pradesh”

Now we all know that Amitabh Bacchan has a particular political affiliation and his wife is a member of the Rajya Sabha with the Samajwadi Party tag and Amitabh is the “elder brother” of Samajwadi Party honcho Amar Singh. We also know that Amitabh is a performer and he performs for money. He sells us Reid and Taylor suiting, Parker pens and all sorts of other gadgets. He has in the past also told us about the merits of polio vaccination and other social causes. Along the way, he also earned himself the reputation of being a man of grace, charm and some credibility. His name was and is being suggested as a worthy replacement for President Abdul Kalaam, when his term ends in July. Of course, Amitabh has with suitable humility declined for the moment but he may well be biding his time to see how the cards line up after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and how many seats his “brother’s” party picks up.

After seeing the advertisements that Amitabh is now mouthing, I am aghast. Aghast at the game plan of the party strategists who have chosen to air these kind of messages on news channels. Surely viewers here of news channels at the least will know better than believe the propaganda hear just because Amitabh is the one saying it. And what of Amitabh’s own credibility? Can he really look at any one in the eye and mouth that Uttar Pradesh is now under the current dispensation an Uttam Pradesh and that there is no injustice and no crime that is happening there? Has advertising fallen so much that blatant untruths can be uttered on camera by public figures and celebrities without caring at all about the factuality of the case at hand?
Celebrities’ are able to carry off a lot of advertising because of the integrity they have amassed over time and Amitabh has surely amassed a lot of it because of his iconic status. But such a status has not only to be earned but also to be preserved by demonstrating consistency and discretion in the products and campaigns they allow their name to be used in. once before, many eons ago, Amitabh Bachchan had retired from the film industry to briefly enter politics by winning a seat in parliament from Allahabad constituency in 1984, but within a short span of time, he resigned from the Parliament because he felt that all that he was understood to stand for was getting compromised. It looks that the same thing is happening again and Amitabh if he learns lessons from his own past should withdraw from such an abhorrent campaign

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