Mumbai: Actress and model Poonam Pandey, who shocked her fans and followers by announcing her death due to cervical cancer on social media, is now facing legal action for her publicity stunt. An NGO has demanded that an FIR be registered against Pandey and her manager for playing with the sentiments of the people and misleading them.
Suresh Shyamlal Gupta, the president of the All Indian Cine Workers Association, slammed Pandey for her “cheap” and “low” act. He said, “Is this a joke? You stooped so low for cheap publicity. No one in Bollywood has stooped so low. You have played with people’s emotions. There are other ways to raise awareness. You can contact the government, or an NGO or hold a media conference. I have told the Mumbai Police Commissioner that an FIR should be registered against Poonam Pandey and her manager.”
Pandey’s manager posted the news of her death on her Instagram account on Friday, claiming that she had “bravely fought the disease” but had “tragically passed away”. The post was accompanied by a picture of Pandey with a message that read, “Bring #DeathToCervicalCancer”. The news spread like wildfire on social media, with many people expressing their condolences and grief. Several media outlets also published obituaries for Pandey, who had gained fame in 2011 when she promised to strip for the India cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup.
However, on Saturday, Pandey came live on Instagram and revealed that she was alive and had faked her death as part of an unconventional attempt to initiate a conversation about cervical cancer. She said, “Yes, I faked my demise. Extreme, I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we? I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve.”
She then urged her followers to get vaccinated and screened for cervical cancer, which is a preventable disease that kills more than 200 women in India every day. She also claimed that her stunt had made “cervical cancer and related terms the most searched on Google”.
However, her explanation did not go down well with many people, who accused her of being insensitive and irresponsible. Some of them also pointed out that she had posted a video of herself enjoying a boat ride in Goa four days before her fake death announcement. Among the critics was Babil Khan, the son of late actor Irrfan Khan, who called Pandey’s stunt “wrong” and “the worst way to raise awareness”.