A recent advertisement for the tobacco brand Vimal, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, and former Bigg Boss contestant Soundarya Sharma, has sparked significant online discussion. In this ad, the three Bollywood superstars wait in a car for Akshay Kumar, who is engrossed in music through his headphones and unaware of their presence.
Shah Rukh Khan attempts to get Akshay’s attention by throwing a ball at his window but inadvertently hits Soundarya’s window instead. To avoid blame, Khan shifts it to Ajay Devgn, who decides to consume a Vimal product and gestures toward Akshay’s window. The scent reaches Akshay, who joins his friends, and they collectively perform the brand’s signature style while looking at Soundarya.
However, this ad has not been well-received by netizens, particularly in light of Akshay Kumar’s earlier commitment to step down as the brand’s ambassador. When the ad initially featured the three actors earlier this year, netizens criticized them for promoting harmful products. Akshay Kumar responded to the backlash by stating that he would no longer endorse the brand.
Some users expressed their disappointment, with comments like, “Akshay will have to hear from the people. He had said he won’t do tobacco ads,” and “Akshay Kumar was not going to do the Vimal ad, then what happened? What is this decision?” Others were upset that he did not stick to his earlier statement. A few defended him, noting that the ad was likely shot before he announced his decision to withdraw from the endorsement deal and that contracts may still require the ads to be aired.
In April, Akshay Kumar issued an apology to his fans via Instagram, stating, “I am sorry. I would like to apologize to you, all my fans and well-wishers. Your reaction over the past few days has deeply affected me. While I have not and will not endorse tobacco, I respect the outpouring of your feelings in light of my association with Vimal Elaichi.” He also announced that he would donate the entire endorsement fee to a charitable cause and pledged to be more careful in his future endorsements. However, it appears that the ads may continue to air due to contractual obligations.