Kochi man Jawahar Subhash Chandra is both amused and traumatised by the events of the past few days in his life. On Wednesday, Jawahar discovered that an ad campaign by the Jaipur police featured him as a 'dead' man' who paid the price of life while doing the viral Kiki challenge.
The ad had a picture of Jawahar which was garlanded. Beneath the picture was written "In loving memory of KK. Loving boyfriend to KiKi, died while doing the Shiggy (February 1995 - July 2018)."
The initiative by the Jaipur police (along with Jawahar's photo) was flashed on all TV channels and other media to warn people about the perils of the KiKi challenge - which involves jumping out of a moving car and dancing to American rapper Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’.
"My wife got a WhatsApp message on Tuesday night. Neither of us saw the message. On Wednesday morning when I got to office, I started receiving calls from people I hadn't kept in touch with for years asking me if I was okay. This was when I saw the ad," says the amused 30-year-old.
Soon enough, a story was published in the Times of India where Jawahar works in the response department. This went viral and Jawahar's phone began lighting up constantly with calls.
"I started receiving calls from random people asking me if I was okay and if my family is okay. If I leave my phone for an hour I get about 6-7 missed calls from people, sometimes old friends. Even my parents are getting calls asking if I am okay. The fact that people thought I died even helped me revive a few old friendships," he says with a chuckle.
Jawahar says that prior to the Jaipur ad campaign, he only had a vague idea about the challenge.
"I had seen funny videos on WhatsApp of people dancing, but had no clue about this challenge until I saw my garlanded picture on the ad. But now I am very familiar with Drake and the KiKi challenge. What surprises me is that the police department of a random state featured me in their official campaign. I have never even been to Jaipur, you know," he says with bewilderment.
So how did the Jaipur police choose the photo of a Kochi resident to be the face of their anti-KiKi campaign? Jawahar knows the answer.
"The photo is 10 years old and was taken by my brother-in-law who is an ad photographer. The image found its way to Shutterstock and I am guessing it is from there that the police picked it up and used it," he says.
The Jaipur police confirmed to TNM that the picture was indeed taken from Shutterstock, a stock image website from which photos can be paid for and downloaded.
“The ad agency which was involved chose the photo for the campaign. Shutterstock has pictures of lots of models and one of them was him (Jawahar). The photo has been paid for and it is legal,” said Sanjay Agarwal, Commissioner of Police, Jaipur.
Although the incident overwhelmed him and resulted in several wasted hours telling callers that he wasn't dead, Jawahar has learnt to see the silver lining on the cloud.
"I have now come to understand that if I die, a lot of people will enquire about me and my family, and I am happy about that," he says.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner said that Jaipur police was not planning to take the picture down from the campaign.
“We use many models for tobacco ads and cancer ads and show them on their death beds. It doesn’t mean that they are dying. This was just a public awareness campaign to give people a jolt and ask them not to do such silly things. This wasn’t done to hurt anyone. We wish him (the model) all the best and a long life ahead,” the Commissioner added.