Publicity stunts the latest trend in Bollywood

Jul 17, 2005 Priyanka Khanna, Jul 17


New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Publicity stunts, a commonality in Hollywood, seem to be the latest trend to hit the Hindi film industry, where initial collections play a crucial role in deciding the fate of films.

The latest controversy revolving around actors Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai has raised many eyebrows within the industry and is being seen by some as a daring publicity gimmick.

The maverick actor is accused of making threatening calls to Aishwarya to convince her to perform in a show funded by underworld don Abu Salem. The calls were tapped in August 2001 and for some reason they have been made public on the eve of the release of Salman's latest film "Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya".

The timing has left many tongues wagging in its wake, with many saying that it is a case of a publicity stunt gone bad, especially with demands for a ban on Salman's film coming from various quarters.

Interestingly, Salman's previous film "Lucky" had introduced a new actress who resembled his ex-flame Aishwarya with whom he had had a messy public break-up. Also, publicists of his hit film "Tere Naam" had marketed the film as the actor's real-life love affair.

Given the background, some say the latest controversy could well be an attempt by the film's financers to hype the film.

Whether the Salman and Aishwarya controversy is a publicity gimmick or not may never be known but there is no doubt that Bollywood seems to be getting bolder with its publicity stunts.

Such stunts in Hollywood are a given. So much so that Tam Cruise's declaration of love for Kate Holmes was met with severe scepticism as both actors had films ready for release.

The latest addition in Hollywood's list of publicity grabbers seems to be fears about terrorism, going by the launch of a new film based on terror within hours of the July 7 London bombings.

The question here is that whether the trend has reached our backyard as well?

Many believe it has. The December 2004 pictures of real life couple Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapor locking lips in a public arena are also being looked on as one such attempt.

The graphic pictures appeared on the front page of the Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day and led to vehement denials from both stars. But nothing came of Kareena's threats to sue the paper.

A few days later, Shahid's "Dil Maange More" was released and it went on to become a rocking hit among teenyboppers.

Similarly, Ashmit Patel was seen in a steamy MMS video with Riya Sen. Again the video came into the public domain at the time of the release of a film starring Ashmit.

Then there is the controversy over threatening calls from underworld dons to filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma. After initial reports that the director had received threatening calls from an underworld don prior to the release of his film "D", the issue fizzled out.

Varma now claims that there were no such calls.

Given this, only time will tell whether the latest controversy revolving around Salman is a publicity gimmick or not. The timing of the news leak, however, makes it seem a very suspicious case of coincidence.

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