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Expensive Assam Tourism Ad featuring Priyanka Makes Eyes Roll

The Department of Tourism, Assam had drawn a huge amount of flak last year after the launch of Awesome Assam Campaign with a video featuring Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra. The video was poorly edited and was accompanied by a faulty logo design and an awkward tagline.

Eyes are set to roll once again as the expenses incurred by the state government on Priyanka Chopra’s recent visit to Assam comes to surface. Ms. Chopra and her team have been flown in all the way from the United States. The cost of such long distance travel is estimated to be no less than Rs. 25 lakh. Added to that, Ms. Chopra took a chartered flight on her way from Mumbai to Jorhat. Allegedly, another cost of Rs. 75 lakh was incurred as the chartered flight was parked at Jorhat for two days at the disposal of the actress. In addition, the Tourism department bore all expenses that arose during Chopra’s two day long stay during which she shot videos, travelled to Kaziranga, and even shot in Majuli.

It may be worth wondering that such a sum, amounting to almost Rs. 1 crore is money well spent. The ads by tourism industry are meant to enhance the revenue earned by attracting more tourists to the state. It needs to be mentioned, even just for the sake of comparison, that Amitabh Bachchan did not charge any money for endorsing Gujarat tourism. Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan’s endorsement of West Bengal Tourism did not accompany any fee.

Maybe the new ad, shot by well-known film-maker Lyod Baptista, will do justice to the campaign as compared to the one shot in the previous year. However, it does not quite do justice that the engagement to showcase the state’s culture and heritage have come at such a heavy price. We could have achieved better if local resources could be rather more fully utilized. Rather than putting a heavy price on it, the pristine landscapes, customs and people of Assam itself could have been documented. Doing so would come at a lesser financial expense, while the ad could still be richer in its content.

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Ankur Kalita