Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut Image Credit: Instagram/KanganaRanaut

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut took to Instagram to slam an advertisement featuring Alia Bhatt as a Hindu bride shunning the ancient ritual of ‘kanyadaan’ -- where the father gives his daughter away -- for a popular fashion retail brand.

Ranaut tagged Bhatt, the brand, and her stylist urging them not to ‘use religion, minority, majority politics to sell things’.

“Humble request to all brands ….. don’t use religion, minority, majority politics to sell things …. Stop manipulating naive consumer with shrewd divisive concepts and advertising… #mohey @aliaabhatt @moheyfashion @stylebyami.”

She did not stop there. The ‘Thalaivii’ star, who has always criticised Bhatt for her privilege, felt the advertisement was mocking Hindu rituals and ‘woke dimwits’ were being pesky.

Alia Bhatt
Alia Bhatt Image Credit: Instagram/Mohey

“Please stop mocking Hindus and their rituals.... Dharti (Earth) and woman both are mothers in scriptures they are worshipped as goddesses of fertility.... Nothing wrong in seeing them as precious and very source of existence (Shakti),” added Ranaut.

She also rejected advertisements that exploit minority and religious sentiments to sell their wares.

“We often see a Martyr’s father on television when they lose a son on the border, they roar: ‘Don’t worry I have one more son, uska bhi daan main iss dharti Maa ko dunga... Kanyadaan ho ya putradaan... The way a society looks at the concept of (lack of equivalent word in English or Urdu using) renunciation shows it’s core value system... When they start to look down upon the very idea of daan. Dhan is not a dirty word ... Stop this anti-Hindu propoganda,” she added.

In the advertisement that was met with polarising reactions when it released on September 18, Bhatt is featured as a bride rejecting the ancient Hindu custom of ‘kanyadaan’. The ‘Gully Boy’ actress was criticised for performative wokeness and for hurting Hindu religious sentiments. Bhatt’s character thinks the custom of ‘Kanyadaan’ is patriarchal and regressive. She wonders aloud why a bride is often referred to as a temporary member of family that she was born into and not as their own. The ad ends with tweaking the custom to ‘Kanyamaan’. While ‘daan’ denotes donate, ‘maan’ alludes to dignity. Many Twitter users, apart from Ranaut, found the concept of the ad problematic.

“#Kanyadaan might just be an Idea for @aliaa08, but for Hindus it’s our ritual. And let me tell you daan is always given of something valuable or mulyavan to anyone, not unlike #bollywood who do it for publicity & PR,” tweeted a user tagging the bridal retail brand.

Another user tweeted: “The very industry that objectifies women in their films, web series and reality shows is preaching about “kanyamaan”. Wish they would practise what they preach then women would automatically get respect.”

Bhatt was also blasted for being a superficially-woke feminist.

While majority found the advertisement performatively progressive, there were a few users who found the ad creative and modern.

Bhatt is yet to comment on the extreme reactions or Ranaut’s public take-down of her work.