Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hain actress Saumya Tandon, one of the four celebrities who refused to tweet in support of a political party in exchange for money as part of a sting operation, says it is a “personal choice” if a person agrees to do it.
As for herself, she says, “I would never sell myself for money on these kind of things”.
Over 30 Indian film and TV industry actors/artistes were caught on camera accepting a ‘cash for tweet’ offer during a sting operation conducted by media portal Cobra Post over a period of 3-4 months last year.
Cobra Post revealed that Saumya, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi and Raza Murad were the only ones among those approached, to refuse the offer.
Saumya said in a statement: “There have been many times I’ve been approached for either endorsing a political party, especially close to elections or to rally for a particular candidate or to talk about a particular party on social media or go attend their parties. I’ve never done that, and I’ll never do that unless and until I truly believe in the person or the party.”
She asserted that politics is far more serious and has “greater implications”.
“I would never sell myself for money on these kind of things. If I have to really earn money, I would rather do a role or a project which is not of national importance to something which has serious consequences. As far as my comment goes for people who do it for money, I would say that it’s their personal choice.”
Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera in the sting.
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta said he was “disgusted but not too surprised” with the revelation.
“They’ve chosen mostly soft targets for the sting – the ‘anything for money’ types. I’m sure there are bigger names seeking more than just endorsement fees,” Mehta said.
Writer Apurva Asrani wrote: “Almost all the big names approached by ‘Operation Karaoke’ refused to sell their souls. It’s mostly the small fries, the ‘has beens’, who sold out. And while actors are known to dance for money, an exposè on news professionals who wreak havoc with paid news would be the real deal.”
Composer Vishal Dadlani quipped: “What I find really funny about the sting is that there are celebs out there who think AAP has money to pay for tweets… Guys, AAP ko support karna matlab jeb se paise donate karna, oopar se mehnat bhi karna (to support AAP means donating money and then working hard as well). No profit here! Do it for India, or don’t bother.”
Actors Sonu Sood and Sunny Leone have explained their stance on the sting.
Sonu said the discussion was “wrongly reproduced and projected”.
“It is very regular for brands, political parties, individuals and corporates to use celebrity social media platforms for promotions. It’s the content being posted that needs to be responsible and something that the celebrity believes in. Even such collaborations and endorsements have to be followed in an ethical and responsible manner,” Sonu said.
“In the video too, I had clearly stated that I won’t demean any party or promote anything which is not right or not true. I would always be open to promote or highlight good work, which everyone would agree isn’t wrong whatsoever.”
Sunny said she was not campaigning for any political party.
“In regard to discussion with anyone, being a free citizen I am entitled to do so as I am approached weekly for many different agendas by many different people. We engage and listen to everyone. If I choose to promote anything political in life, I would choose things I only believe in.”