Lisa Haydon, Priyanka Chopra and Sidharth Malhotra are some of the Bollywood celebrities who find themselves in a sticky position vis-à-vis the Nirav Modi scam. While Priyanka Chopra is said to be contemplating legal action against Modi, for Sidharth Malhotra this is an inopportune time to be caught in a scam-related crossfire, since the actor is currently promoting his new film Aiyaary.
Says Sidharth’s co-star, “He has no answer to questions on why he was associated with Nirav Modi’s jewellery brand by doing an ad for the brand. How does one answer such a question? How is one supposed to check on a seemingly impeccable brand’s track record, let alone ascertain where it would be going in the future.”
While Sidharth Malhotra and Priyanka Chopra have decided to cut all ties with the jewellery brand there is no end to the sniggers that the two actors have to face for lending the face to the now-disgraced tycoon.
A filmmaker, who doesn’t wish to be named, says there is a sense of déjà vu in how Chopra and Malhotra’s visuals from the Modi jewellery are being aired on various channels to prove their participation in the diamond merchant’s nefarious transactions.
“We saw a similar finger pointing when Madhuri Dixit had to face the flak for a brand of noodles that she advertised. The moral and legal correctness of a brand are not the celebrity-model’s responsibility. Priyanka Chopra will escape the media inquisition because she is not in the country. But poor Sidharth Malhotra is getting a hard time as he’s promoting Aiyaary. He has to be vulnerable to public scrutiny. And what can he say? ‘Yes, I endorsed Nirav Modi’s diamond brand. But I didn’t know he was a scamster’ isn’t that obvious?”
Ironically Malhotra plays an army man determined to clean out corruption in the army in Aiyaaary.
So should a celebrity be held responsible for a product if it eventually turns out to be of dubious legal, moral or political merit?
Says Naseeruddin Shah, “It is advisable for the model to know what he or she is endorsing. But you can’t always know the truth about what you are selling. There are just too many opinions around.”
“I definitely feel that the celebrities should know what they’re endorsing. They should be held responsible for the claims made in the endorsement of a product,” adds Hansal Mehta.
Baabul Suprio singer, MP in Narendra Modi’s government, “It isn’t the celebrity-model’s duty to examine every product before promoting it, unless it is a known health hazard, like alcohol, cigarettes and gutka.”