Bollywood celebrities are just as culpable, say flat buyers

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Bollywood celebrities are just as culpable, say flat buyers

Buyers in Karrm Projects’ properties demand accountability from Bollywood and Marathi actors over their endorsements; legal, ethical concerns surface

Movie stars and brand endorsers attended the event; (centre) thousands of people attended the mega event in November 2014; (right) poster of a movie produced by Karrm Movies, at the launch event at Shahpur

It is not a company, it is a family.” “Our name itself is Karrm, we believe in doing good karrm….” were the lines of a Bollywood actor, who endorsed the Karrm infrastructure projects.

‘‘Karrm ghar banana ke saath saath, basaatein bhi hai” – were the lines of a well-known Bollywood actor, who endorsed Karrm in an advertisement.

Adding to the roster, a distinguished Marathi actor stepped in to endorse Karrm projects in a localised advertisement.

Babanrao Miratkar was promised a four-wheeler at the time of possession by the developer for which a certificate was issued

The resonating call “Make the Bollywood actors who endorsed Karrm projects accountable” captures the voices of defrauded flat buyers. These buyers assert that the actors who endorsed the projects assumed the role of endorsers for quality construction and actively supported the developer’s marketing initiatives.

Intriguingly, Karrm orchestrated two grand film launch events (one Marathi and one Hindi movie) at their Shahpur site. These events invited thousands of flat buyers, providing them with an exclusive opportunity to partake in the Bollywood extravaganza.

Invested based on allure

Babanrao Miratkar, 42, employed in a manufacturing unit, succumbed to the allure of Karrm projects. The extensive newspaper and television advertisements, featuring renowned Bollywood actors and even a prominent Marathi actor, endorsing Karrm Infrastructure, were his draw.

Babanrao Miratkar, a flat buyer

Miratkar states, “I was captivated by these advertisements. The stature of the endorsing actors held sway over potential home buyers, influencing their decisions to invest in Karrm projects. One advertisement even promised modular kitchens, washing machines, fridges, and a chance to win two-wheelers or four-wheelers, along with gold worth Rs 75,000. Lured by these assurances, I booked a flat. Today, I’m left with neither a house nor the promised four-wheeler, only a monthly EMI payment that remains unpaid.” Furthermore, a prominent politician presented the “BEST Township Award” in 2014 to Karrm developers, cementing their credibility in the eyes of the public.

Miratkar, like numerous others, contends that a case should be filed against the endorsing Bollywood and Marathi actors. He argues that these actors, by extolling Karrm projects at Shahpur, Ambernath, and Kelve Road in Palghar, indirectly collaborated with the developers to deceive flat buyers of their life savings.

From acting to real estate

Miratkar further shares, “The Bollywood actor hinted at his family’s shift from films to real estate, portraying Karrm Infrastructure was like family and aimed at constructing 5 lakh homes across Maharashtra. The actor portrayed alignment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of affordable housing. I placed trust in the actor’s statements, only to be swindled by his misleading words.”

Mega event at Shahpur

Miratkar reminisces, “Around November 2014, Karrm Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. arranged a grand Bollywood event at their Shahpur site. Air-conditioned buses ferried people from Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai, and Navi Mumbai for the shows. Over ten to fifteen thousand attendees gathered at the venue, where sumptuous arrangements, including lunch, awaited.”

Elaborating on the event, Miratkar recounts, “The developers had also ventured into film production, launching a Hindi movie ‘Badlapur Boys’ and a Marathi movie ‘Razzakar.’ The cast of these movies, alongside revered actors from yesteryears, graced the launch. Notably, these actors were also the brand endorsers of the projects. Never did I anticipate that this event would become a platform for defrauding the common man.”

Strategic marketing event

Miratkar adds, “The event’s purpose was to attract a massive crowd to their project site while simultaneously generating an audience for their upcoming movies.
Attendees received project brochures, revealing a clear marketing strategy.”

Police aversion to filing case

Whistleblower Parbhuram Giri shares similar sentiments, urging action against the endorsing Bollywood and Marathi actors who supported Karrm Projects.

“I approached Palghar police station to file a case against the Bollywood actor who vigorously promoted affordable homes at Karrm Brahmaand, Kelwe Road, Palghar. Most project investors trusted the developer, swayed by the endorsement of these prominent personalities. However, the police officer insisted on registering the complaint against the developer, asserting that the Bollywood actors merely endorsed the project. He dismissed the possibility of lodging a complaint against the actors.”

Miratkar interjects, “I suspect that the developers are mere figureheads for the project, while the entire endeavour belongs to the Bollywood actor. He has garnered public trust and promoted Karrm Infrastructure as if it were his own project. This deception has led the common man astray. If the police are unable to act, the actors should be held accountable under other laws, including the Consumer Protection Act.”

Authenticity of endorsement

Advocate Godfrey Pimenta from the Watchdog Foundation comments on the situation: “It is increasingly evident that actor endorsements might conflict with personal beliefs or societal values, leading to adverse effects. Celebrities aligning with products or services that eventually prove detrimental can mar both their reputation and the brand’s image. Ensuring authenticity and transparency in endorsements is crucial.”

Pimenta emphasises, “When a respected actor endorses a product, consumers associate it with credibility and quality, assuming that the celebrity has thoroughly vetted the offering. However, misleading or harmful products damage both the actor’s reputation and the brand’s image. Advertising Standards Council of India celebrity guidelines aim to ensure that brand endorsements involving celebrities are truthful and transparent. Maintaining trust between celebrities, brands, and consumers is essential through implementing, monitoring, and legal regulations for endorsements.”

Consumer protection

Advocate Mohini Priya, a consumer rights specialist in the Supreme Court, reinforces this perspective. She highlights the importance of the Consumer Protection Act, Section 14, which addresses unfair trade practices, corrective advertising, and compensatory measures. The 2022 “Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements” further reinforce consumer rights.

Priya added, “Celebrities endorsing products must ensure their endorsements reflect genuine and reasonably current opinions, and they must fully disclose material connections between themselves and the endorsed product’s traders, manufacturers, or advertisers that could impact endorsement credibility.”

She emphasised, amid the contemporary marketplace, consumers are advised to exercise caution, verify sellers’ legitimacy, and choose reputable developers with established credibility. They should remain vigilant about the legality and infrastructural plans of projects, not being swayed solely by celebrity endorsements.

Year when Karrm developer received ‘BEST Township Award’

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