The Himachal Pradesh government has given up on its move to appoint Kangana Ranaut as the state’s brand ambassador, with a top bureaucrat citing lax officialdom for non-clinching of the deal with the Bollywood actor.
The decision to shelve the one-and-a-half-year-old proposal was taken at a Thursday meeting of the board of directors of the tourism department under the chairmanship of chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
The 30-year-old actor, who hails from Mandi district of the state celebrated for tourism, had expressed willingness to take up the assignment. The state tourism department, which had been struggling for years to find a celebrity to promote its scenic hills, got a consenting email from the national awardee this January, according to Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board vice-chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia.
On Friday, Mankotia said the government could not strike a deal with Mumbai-based Kangana, adding he was upset with the state’s tourism department bureaucrats for “delay in completing the required formalities” to rope in the actor. “I told the board members they treated the entire issue like a joke,” he told Hindustan Times.
It was 18 months ago Mankotia floated the idea of Kangana as the state’s brand ambassador. “But the things did not move in the right direction. Hence, I finally moved a resolution to drop the proposal,” he added. “I will write to a letter to Kangana and apologise for the mess-up.”
Sources said two representatives of the tourism department met Kangana in Mumbai six months ago to “finalise” the terms and conditions for appointing her as the Himachal Pradesh brand ambassador.
The Chandigarh-educated actor, who spent her formative years in Bambla village of central Himachal, reportedly agreed to the deal with a “nominal fee” compared to the remuneration multinational companies would pay her for product promotion. As for films, Kangna charges Rs 11-12 crore per project, according to sources.
The Himachal tourism department had planned a 20-minute promotional film to highlight the hill-state’s adventure, religious and travel destinations.
After meeting Kangana, the two officials discussed the proposal with their bosses, who opined the matter must be brought before the directors of the tourism board. Its meeting did not take place for six months.
The board had earlier approached playback singer Mohit Chauhan, who hails from Nahan, with a brand ambassador proposal, but that too did not materialise.
During the previous Bharatiya Janata Party regime, the department had approached Himachal-born Preity Zinta for the role of a brand ambassador. Zinta, who hails from Seo village in Rohru tehsil, initially agreed to the offer, but things did not work out later.