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Priyanka Chopra ‘trends’ in Assam assembly

Her ‘Awesome Assam’ campaign has drawn widespread criticism.

india Updated: May 09, 2017 18:26 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Guwahati, Hindustan Times
Priyanka Chopra,Assam assembly,Awesome Assam campaign
Assam tourism last year signed Priyanka Chopra as its brand ambassador.(Reuters File Photo)

Actor Priyanka Chopra on Tuesday ‘trended’ in the unlikeliest of places – the 126-member Assam assembly.

Assam tourism last year signed the Quantico actor as its brand ambassador. A deal was accordingly signed with her firm Purple Pebble Pictures (PPP).

But her ‘Awesome Assam’ campaign drew widespread criticism. The tagline, “Naturally Wild: Kyunki Yeh Assam Hai” rubbed many the wrong way.

On Tuesday, the second day of the three-day special session of the assembly, the opposition parties sought to know the details about the deal with Chopra.

Tourism minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the tourism department signed a two-year contract with PPP but did not specify the fee to be paid to Chopra for the job. Sarma had last year, before the deal, said she would campaign “free of cost”.

The pressure on the government mounted after several political and social organisations, including the influential Assam Assam Students’ Union, felt public money had been wasted on Chopra.

“The government has paid Rs2.37 crore to Purple Pebbles for the promotional project,” Sarma told the house.

The government, he added, will spend Rs 100 core on the total campaign package, to be finalised by May 15.

He also said the department had spent Rs 42 lakh on Chopra and her team’s visit to Guwahati in February this year. More publicity material, he added, would be finalised by May 15.

The tourism department in August last year approached Chopra after three other celebrities – cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor – reportedly declined the offer.

The deal with Chopra’s PPP was inked in December last year.

The expenditure on Chopra’s visit earlier this year had stirred a controversy. The ‘Naturally Wild’ ad that followed left many with a bad taste.

Gaurav Gogoi, one of Assam’s Congress MPs, had tweeted: “Awesome Assam is not going to promote tourism. It’s damaging our state’s public image and brand.”

Assamese playback singer Queen Hazarika said: “Assam has mention in epics like Mahabharata... Kamakhya Temple, 600-year-old Ahom legacy, etc. can’t be summarised as Naturally Wild.”

Another tweet by Bidyut Bikash Das read: “Naturally Wild, kyunki yeh Assam hain?” @priyankachopra seriously. Seemed like an ad of #Manforce rather than #Assamtourism #assam”

First Published: May 09, 2017 17:26 IST