A restaurant in Karachi, Pakistan, named Swing, has received severe backlash on social media in Pakistan for using a scene from the Bollywood film Gangubai Kathiawadi featuring Alia Bhatt to promote its special offer, only for men. In its advertisement posted on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook on Friday, June 17, the restaurant used a scene from Bhatt’s movie to promote a special “Men’s Monday” discount, where it offered a 25 per cent discount only for men.
The restaurant used a scene in which Alia Bhatt, who played a sex worker in the film, was seen propositioning men on the Mumbai streets. “Aja na Raja – what are you waiting for? Swings is calling out all the Rajas out there. Aajao and avail a 25% discount on Men’s Monday at Swings!?” the caption of the advertisement read.
The advertisement did not go down well with Pakistani Netizens who slammed the restaurant for promoting sexual abuse of women for cheap publicity. A Facebook user named Daniyal Sheikh wrote, “Ajaa na raja? What is this? It’s promoting sexual abuse of women and literally making fun of women who are forced to be a prostitute. Try to be responsible.”
An Instagram user farihaa.irrfan said, “You really need to look into what’s being put up here. To use a painful scene to justify whatever you’re offering is reeking of misogyny, ignorance.”
Many other social media users criticised the Pakistani restaurant for stooping so low for publicity.
To defend its advertisement, the restaurant posted a follow-up post saying, ‘It was just a concept and not meant to hurt anyone.’ “Arey logon, itna dil pe kyun le liya? Movie kare tou aag, restaurant kare tou paap?” the restaurant asked. Further, it said, “The movie and this post is based on a concept. Like before, we’re open to all and will be serving you with the same love like we always have.”
The so-called apology further angered the already miffed Netizens who took off at the restaurant for issuing such an unapologetic response. “The movie depicted a STORY of a girl who was forced into prost¡tution. It was not a commercial to appeal men and sell them a product. Do you really not understand the difference? How tone-deaf is it? You are literally digging it deeper!” wrote one Khadija Abbas on Facebook.
“Despicable!! Boycotting Swings for their sick sense of humor. I feel for the women who work at your restaurants. Wonder what they have to face!” another person on social media chastised the restaurant for using a cheap PR stunt.
Alia Bhatt starter ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and was released in the cinemas on February 25. The film is an adaptation of Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ which records the life of Gangubai Kothewali, a matriarch of a brothel in Mumbai’s Kamathipura.