Bollywood Star Pulled From India's Tourism Campaign After Panama Leaks
Bollywood Star Pulled From India’s Tourism Campaign After Panama Leaks © AFP 2016/ STR
16:14 19.04.2016(updated 16:26 19.04.2016) Get short URL
The so-called ‘Panama Papers’ look set to claim another scalp, that of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
The multi award winning film and television star was until recently lined up to be the next face of ‘Incredible India’ — the country’s international tourist marketing campaign — but revelations regarding Bachchan’s apparent connections to firms and accounts in offshore tax havens have led officials to reconsider.
“This is a signature campaign of the government and since his name surfaced in the leak any decision on his appointment will be taken after getting clarity over Government’s stand on the entire issue,” a statement from India’s Ministry of Tourism said.
The actor has denied any connection with the companies linked to Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, suggesting his name had been “misused”:
“I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas, monies that I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law… after paying Indian taxes.”
Whilst Bachchan is still technically in the running, events have brought other names to the surface; most notably, the possibility of a female ambassador — Priyanka Chopra.
Chopra is one of Bollywood’s highest paid actresses, a former Miss World and the winner of numerous awards, including the Padma Shri — the fourth highest civilian award in India. She was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for child rights in 2010, and is a prominent campaigner for gender equality and gender pay equality.
Priyanka Chopra is already a brand ambassador for Incredible India; in fact she was appointed to the role alongside Amitabh Bachchan in January, following the organization’s controversial decision to strip their predecessor — Aamir Khan — of the role.
Bollywood star Aamir Khan was dropped by Incredible India following comments critical of the Indian Government, in which he said he was uncomfortable about the “safeguarding” of civil liberties in the country:
“People who are our elected representatives, people who we select to look after us for five years, state or center… When people take law into their hands, we look upon these people to take a strong stance, to make a strong statement, speed up the legal process, when we see that happening there is a sense of security but when we don’t see that happening there is a sense of insecurity.”
Priyanka Chopra commented on the controversy surrounding Khan, saying “I would think twice before making a comment, don’t use actors as political pawns”. But she did add “This is not the India I grew up in”.
Of course, the Indian Ministry of Tourism is yet to reach its decision regarding Amitabh Bachchan’s fate, and it is still entirely possible that he could survive the storm.