MUMBAI – Leading brands are playing it safe on Deepika Padukone, the country’s highest paid actress, after she expressed solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students attacked by masked goons with sledgehammers, iron rods and rocks on the campus.
According to the Economic Times, celebrity managers say future endorsement deals are expected to see clauses factoring in the risks involved with celebrities taking political stands that might anger administrations inclined to be vengeful.
“Normally, brands like to play safe and are wary of any controversy,” said Shashi Sinha, chief executive of IPG Mediabrands, which represents Coca-Cola and Amazon among others.
Some brands have reportedly said they are reducing the visibility of ads featuring her in the short term.
“We have been told by a mid-sized brand to stall ads featuring Deepika for about two weeks. Hopefully, the controversy would have normalised by then,” said an executive at a media buying agency. Padukone, with a net worth of Rs 103 crore, endorses 23 brands including Britannia’s Good Day, L’Oreal, Tanishq, Vistara Airlines and Axis Bank. She has 26.8 million followers on Twitter.
Padukone visited the JNU campus in Delhi on January 7, three days ahead of the release of her film Chhapaak, about an acid attack survivor.
Photos and videos showing her standing behind injured JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh went viral, sparking widespread messages of support extolling her courage and backlash from ministers, right-wing trolls and others.
Amid boycott calls, Chhapaak’s net box office collection amounted to Rs 11.67 crore in two days. Its Friday collection was Rs 4.77 crore, rising to Rs 6.90 crore on Saturday. Early estimates put the Sunday figure at close to Rs 9 crore. The total cost of production of the film is below Rs 40 crore.