Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan on Monday denied charging Rs 6.31 crore to endorse government channel DD Kisan and he later issued a statement saying, “I work pro bono on various issues and DD Kisan channel is one of them.”
Doordarshan’s Kisan Channel was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 at a time when debt-ridden farmers were committing suicide. Ahead of the general elections of 2014, BJP promised a channel for farmers, for which Rs. 100 crore were allocated by finance minister Arun Jaitley in 2014-2015 budget.
Earlier, the megastar issued a statement to end the controversy over the allegations that he had charged Rs. 6.31 crore to promote the public-funded channel launched by the Prime Minister. If so, it would have become the most expensive endorsement ever by the actor.
“I wish to state that I have not entered into any contract with Doordarshan, on the endorsement of their Channel DD Kisan, and neither have I received any money from them.
“I worked with the advertising agency Lowe Lintas on the campaign for DD Kisan, and have not entered into any contract with them either, nor have I received any money from Lintas, as being stated. My ‘deliverables’ on this campaign have been executed by me many days ago.
“I work pro bono on various issues and DD Kisan Channel is one of them. If there is any evidence or proof to the contrary, please forward them to me for verification,” the statement from Amitabh Bachchan read.
T 1936 – My press statement on DD Kisan Channel matter ..!! pic.twitter.com/PG9FBF2khL
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) July 20, 2015
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is now probing why the payment was made in the first place, while ad agency said that it has initiated a refund of the amount.
The entire saga leaves behind unanswered questions. Why did the government pay the ad agency when it was free? Or was it a late cover up? Does it mean the ministry remits funds without any invoice or demand note?
While Amitabh Bachchan is forthcoming, the real culprit should also own the responsibility and clear the cloud.