Abhay Deol's calling out of Bollywood celebrities who endorse fairness products has created a bit of a storm - but neither are the people named by Abhay the first, nor the last to endorse this fantasy being sold to the public. In Kerala though, a 67-year-old man fought against one such product and dragged the star endorsing it - Mammootty - to court. This is the story of how Chaathu won Rs 30,000 from the company in an out of court settlement.
Living in one of Kerala’s remotest areas, a 67-year-old man had a simple question: How can someone lie consistently and make absolutely false claims? This question led him to haul both a cosmetics manufacturer and its brand ambassador Mammootty to court over misleading advertisements and has won a tacit victory over the company.
In August 2015, K Chaathu of Mananthavady in Wayanad district lodged a complaint with the district consumer court against beauty product manufacturers Indulekha and its brand ambassador actor Mammootty.
Chaathu had told the court that the soap's tagline parroted by Mammootty, 'soundaryam ningale thedi varum' (Beauty will come in search of you), was misleading, as he never became 'beautiful' or 'fair'.
The 67-year-old's case against the company may have appeared laughable to many, but just months later, the company has paid compensation.
Though Chaathu had asked for Rs 50,000 as damages, Indulekha paid him Rs 30,000 in an out of court settlement in early January 2016.
Chaathu says it was never about money, but about the notion of trust that a company builds in the minds of consumers and what renowned celebrities like Mammootty owe to society.
“We have all seen a series of advertisements by Indulekha white soap. Their claim seemed very convincing and Mammootty’s appearance increased their credibility. But even a fraction of their claim is not true, I have experienced it,” Chaathu says.
“At some point, after continually listening to these advertisements, I believed that it might be true. I thought the soap can make me fair. We tried it for the past year but could not even find a slight change,” he told The News Minute.
A 75gm bar of Indulekha soap costs Rs 35.
“The soap is not special and it should be a warning to all products in the market that cheat consumers. I don’t understand why these celebrities support these people,” he adds.
Chaathu continues: “Maybe because of immense star worship most of my villagers believe what celebrities say. I have heard them saying may be that product is good otherwise Mammootty or Mohanlal will not act in the ad. I think many fans trust their celebrities, so they (celebrities) should be more responsible to society”.
He also pointed that more people should come against products which makes false claims. “Indulekha is just an example. I am sure that there are hundreds of products which do the same. People should react,” he concludes.