A couple of weeks ago, Indians were shocked to see a salt-and-pepper Pierce Brosnan starring in a series of ads for the pan masala brand Pan Bahar. The sight of the former James Bond actor endorsing pan masala inspired countless jokes, with some people highlighting the health risks associated with the product.
Brosnan also appeared in a YouTube ad for the company, in which he arrives in a flashy car and performs a series of Bond-like stunts to defeat his enemies, using a Pan Bahar can as his weapon.
Now, however, it turns out that the video ad is banned from television. Central Board of Film Certification chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, said that while he had not seen the ad himself, all ads promoting alcohol, pan masala and tobacco are banned from television.
"I haven't seen the ad. But it is very difficult to believe Pierce Brosnan has done this. Money can hardly be a criteria when you're selling death to people," Nihalani told DNA. "However, he has chosen to do what he has done. But there is no way we can certify the ad. All paan masala, tobacco, alcohol ads are automatically and unconditionally banned."
Earlier Pan Bahar had told The Indian Express that their pan masala was being criticised on wrong grounds, as it did not contain any tobacco or nicotine. "As we support our country's 'Make in India' campaign, we are proud to have Mr Brosnan on board and would like to thank him for lending his image for the short film of Pan Bahar and taking the brand to next level while making it classier with his elegance and style," the company said in its statement.
"There is rave on social media regarding the new (ad) however we believe there is lack of awareness about the product that Mr Brosnan has done a short film for – a Pan Masala (Indian mouth freshener) which has Betelnut, Lime, Catechu, Cardamom seeds, Sandal wood oil, and Kewara in it and there is NO Tobacco No Nicotine content in this product."
However, this disclaimer will not affect its status. "Even the liquor ads showing big stars like Shah Rukh and Saif, which pretend to sell non-alcohol products while actually selling the alcohol brand, are illegal," Nihalani said. "You can't use a name associated with an alcohol to sell any other product. I repeat, all paan masala ads are banned by the government on all public platforms. So what does Mr Brosnan hope to achieve by doing this ad?"