Popular Jewellery Brand Tanishq on Tuesday pulled down its advertisement showing an interfaith family following a sharp backlash on social media, where the company was accused of promoting ‘love jihad’ and ‘fake secularism’.
The 43-second commercial was released last week to promote its jewellery collection Ekatvam (oneness). The Ad showcased a pregnant woman in a sari and bindi being escorted by an older woman in a salwar kurta and a dupatta covering her head. The young woman addresses her as 'Ma' and asks, "But you don’t celebrate this custom (‘godh bharai’)?". The mother responds with a smile, “The tradition of keeping daughters happy is there in every home.” Setting the scene of a composite family, a woman in a hijab, people in saris and a man in a skullcap can be seen in the backdrop.
Tanishq first disabled comments and likes/dislikes on its ad on YouTube, and on Tuesday withdrew the video altogether following the intense online backlash and criticism.
Later, the company posted, "We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, parters and store staff."
Even celebrities such as Kangana Ranaut joined the fray, declaring that "This advert is wrong on many levels..."
Her twitter post read, "Hindu girl apologetically expressing her gratitude to her in-laws for the acceptance of her faith, isn’t she the woman of the house? Why is she at their mercy? Why so meek and timid in her own house? Shameful."
The concept wasn’t as much a problem as the execution was,the fearful Hindu girl apologetically expressing her gratitude to her in-laws for the acceptance of her faith, Isn’t she the woman of the house? Why is she at their mercy? Why so meek and timid in her own house? Shameful. https://t.co/LDRC8HyHYI— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) October 12, 2020
But the removal of the ad led to a fresh debate on Twitter with several people, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, writer Chetan Bhagat, actor Swara Bhasker calling out the trolls.
"So Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott of ?@TanishqJewelry for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim “ekatvam” irks them so much, why don't they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world -- India?" tweeted Tharoor.
So Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott of âÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ¦@TanishqJewelryâÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ© for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim “ekatvam” irks them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world -- India? pic.twitter.com/cV0LpWzjda— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 13, 2020
His party colleague Abhishek Singhvi concurred.
"Those boycotting the Tanishq ad don't like seeing daughter in law(s) happy around mother in law's. You have seen too many soaps & too much prime times news," tweeted Singhvi.
Those boycotting the Tanishq ad don't like seeing daughter in law(s) happy around mother in law's. You have seen too many soaps & too much prime times news.— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) October 13, 2020
Two States author Chetan Bhagat said the company should not get bullied.
“As a TATA group company, expected #Tanishq to be fairer and braver. If you have done nothing wrong, if you have shown something beautiful about our country, don't get bullied. Be Indian. Be strong,” he said.
As a TATA group company, expected #Tanishq to be fairer and braver. If you have done nothing wrong, if you have shown something beautiful about our country, don't get bullied. Be Indian. Be strong.— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) October 13, 2020
Actor Swara Bhasker was also critical and put out a caustic tweet saying, “Such a large company, such a weak spine.”
à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¤à¤¨à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ à¤µà¤¿à¤¶à¤¾à¤² à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤®à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤ªà¤¨à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ.. à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¤à¤¨à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ à¤¢à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤²à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ à¤°à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¢à¤¼ à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ à¤¹à¤¡à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¡à¥ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ! @TanishqJewelry #tanishq #TanishqJewelry— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 13, 2020
"TBH, reacting to paid twitter trends and manufactured outrage is just myopic. The ad was lovely. Standing by it would have made 'em cooler, foresighted and balsy. But alas #tanishq," added her colleague Richa Chadha.
Blogger and writer Richa Singh came out in the company's support, saying those preaching that Tanishq should not have withdrawn the ad obviously don't own jewellery shops.
“In a hooligan environment like the present they will first protect their employees' and business interest and then think about your inquilab. So please, drop it,” she tweeted.
The polarisation was evident since October 9 when the ad was first released, with many people slamming Tanishq for projecting “fictional” interfaith union and promoting ‘love jihad’, a reference to an alleged campaign by Muslims to convert Hindu girls in the guise of love. Others lauded it for showing a syncretic, harmonious India.
"Tanishq jewellery's 'Ekatvam' series' ad projects a fictional 'interfaith' union, a Muslim family, a Hindu daughter-in-law being allowed to do a Hindu ritual. Nothing but promotion of love jihad… #BoycottTanishq," tweeted former IAS officer and author Sanjay Dixit.
BJP leader and former MP Geetha Kothapalli described the ad as “bizarre, highly objectionable and normalising #LoveJihad”.
“I want to know who directed this Ad and who wrote? Pull this AD down #BoycottTanishq," she said on Twitter.
It is not the first time that Tanishq has broken the stereotype and challenged societal norms with its ad.
In 2013, it promoted remarriage in an ad made by Lowe Lintas. However, back then the commercial didn't attract any controversy and was widely appreciated.
(With PTI inputs)