Aishwarya ad: Kalyan apologises

Following the online furore over a “racist and regressive” advertisement featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan with a dark-skinned child, jewellery company Kalyan Jewellers has now decided to withdraw the campaign.

The 41-year-old actress, who is a brand ambassador for Kalyan, faced the wrath of activists after the print advertisement was published in a leading daily.

An an open letter addressed to the former beauty queen slammed her involvement in the ad, saying it promoted child labour. It prompted Rai Bachchan’s publicist to release a statement saying the creative team for the brand was responsible for the change.

The company has now apologised and has began the process to withdraw the campaign.

“The creative was intended to present the royalty, timeless beauty and elegance. However, if we have inadvertently hurt the sentiments of any individual or organisation, we deeply regret the same.

“We have started the process of withdrawing this creative from our campaign,” Kalyan Jewellers said via their Facebook page.

Rai Bachchan’s publicist Archana Sadanand claimed that Rai Bachchan — part of one of India’s top acting dynasties, and a veteran of endorsement deals — did not have full creative control over the final advertisement and shared a picture of Rai Bachchan taken during the ad campaign shoot. In that image, a bedecked Rai Bachchan is leaning against a velvet couch with a blank background; there is no sight of the dark-skinned child.

“On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professional working on the brand visual communication,” said Sadanand.

Rai Bachchan is one of Bollywood’s top earners and is a staple on the global red carpet events such as the Cannes International Film Festival.