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Friday, December 3, 2010

Big B in Kerala ad an year after party's reservations

03 Dec 2010

Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly an year after the CPI-M central leadership shot down a proposal to make Amitabh Bachchan brand ambassador of Kerala tourism, the Bollywood icon has been prominently featured in an advertisement of the state-sponsored shopping festival alongwith Malayalam's Mohanlal.

The ad issued the other day to mark the inaugural of the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) gives the impression that Bachchan also has become a brand ambassador of the fourth edition of the 46-day event.

The ad showed a scene from military thriller 'Kandahar' co-starring Bachchan and Mohanlal and being directed by Major Ravi of 'Kurukshetra' and 'Kirthichakra' fame.

The commercial termed it as an 'advertisement done for Kerala Government by Lt Col Dr Mohanlal and Ashirwad Max Lab Films.'It showed Mohalal, who is a Lt Colonel in Territorian Army, in mlitary uniform with Bachchan standing beside in civilian clothes.

Earlier,the CPI-M central leadership had come in the way of the state Tourism Department making Bachchan as its brand ambassador on the ground that he had signed a similar contract for Gujarat under the Narendra Modi Government.

When asked about the incongruity, a GKSF official said the ad was released by Ashirwad films with which the event had a contract as one of the main sponsors . 'Any creative matter released by them have to be issued by us under the contract', he said.

The office of state Tourism Minister, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, said the Government had nothing directly to do 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 twould only create unnecessary cotroversies, in which we are not interested', he said.

About an year back, Bachchan had offered his readiness to be the brand ambassador for Kerala during a television interview.

Taking cue from it, the state Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who is also CPI-M polit bureau member, wrote to Bachchan inviting him to 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 turn over of Rs 4000 crore last year and it was targetted to increase this year to Rs 5000 crore.PTI

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