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Centre's ad on road safety featuring Akshay Kumar under fire for allegedly promoting dowry

A public service advertisement on road safety featuring Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar is at the centre of a growing storm for allegedly promoting dowry.

Centre ad on road safety featuring Akshay Kumar under fire for allegedly promoting dowry snt
First Published Sep 12, 2022, 8:58 PM IST

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar is featured in a public service announcement for road safety that is the subject of a rising uproar for allegedly encouraging dowry.

The one-minute video depicts a 'bidaai' ceremony. The emotional bride sits in the car while her father, who is in tears, bids her farewell. At that point, a cop, played by Akshay Kumar, steps in to instruct the distraught father of the bride to send his daughter and the groom in a car with six airbags rather than their current vehicle with only two airbags. The father nods in agreement, and the next image shows the couple leaving in a car with six airbags while grinning broadly.

Also read: Akshay Kumar Net Worth: Check out Khiladi Kumar's annual salary, earns, cars and more

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi and Trinamool Congress' Saket Gokhale were among those who spoke against the video, a public service advertisement (PSA) posted on social media following the death of former Tata Sons chairperson Cyrus Mistry in a car crash earlier this month. 

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had posted the video on Twitter in a bid to promote travelling in a vehicle with six airbags. 

"This is such a problematic advertisement. Who passes such creatives? Is the government spending money to promote the safety aspect of a car or promoting the evil & criminal act of dowry through this ad?" Shiv Sena's Chaturvedi tweeted on Sunday. 

Trinamool Congress national spokesperson, Saket Gokhale, posed two questions to the NDA-led BJP government at the Centre. 

"1. Disgusting to see Indian govt officially promoting dowry. What even??? 2. Cyrus Mistry died because the road design was faulty. That spot is an accident-prone area," he wrote. 

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The video was an "amazing way to deflect responsibility by pushing for 6 air bags (& expensive cars) instead of fixing roads", added Gokhale in his tweet. 

The ad comes a month after the release of Kumar's film "Raksha Bandhan", which focused on dowry culture, something the actor likened to "extortion" during its promotions. 

How the mighty have fallen, asked a Twitter user. "WHAT an inglorious fall for this worm. Reduced to crawling like this. In an ad so stupid that it should never have crawled out of the WhatsApp sewer that it belonged to," he wrote on Twitter and described himself as a former Akshay Kumar fan. 

Another Twitter user said the advertisement was "crass". "The ad about the bride's car having just 2 airbags starring Akshay kumar is crass.. an obvious reference to Cyrus Mistry's unfortunate accident. The subject of airbags can be treated with more sensitivity." 

Also read: Akshay Kumar once considered leaving India and moving to Canada; read on

Akshay Kumar is known as the 'poster man' for several PSAs, including a pro-sanitary napkin and anti-smoking ad played at cinema halls before the screening of movies.

The actor also appeared in the Transport Ministry's "Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha" campaign, which promoted road safety, in 2018.

After severe social media backlash in April, the Bollywood superstar apologised to his fans for featuring in an advertising campaign for a paan masala brand and said he was withdrawing his association with the company.

(With inputs from PTI)

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