Incredible India: Aamir Khan reacts sportingly, Amitabh Bachchan most likely to be new mascot.
Asserting that India will remain incredible, actor Aamir Khan said he respects government's decision to "discontinue" with his services for the 'Incredible India' campaign whose new mascot is likely to be megastar Amitabh Bachchan. Aamir, 50, also made it clear that he never charged anything for his services over 10 years for the campaign. "It is the prerogative of the government to decide whether they need a brand ambassador for any campaign, and if so, who that ambassador should be.
"I respect the decision of the government to discontinue with my services. I am sure they will take all appropriate steps to do what is best for the country," Aamir said in a statement, a day after the Tourism Ministry said his contract for the campaign has ended.
Aamir said it had been an "honour and a pleasure" for him to be the "Brand Ambassador for the Incredible India campaign for the past 10 years."
"I was happy to be of service to my country, and will always be available for it. I would like to clarify that all public service films I have done till date have all been free of any cost to me. It is always an honour for me to be of service to my country, and this is how it will always be.
"... Whether I am brand ambassador or not, India will remain Incredible, and that's the way it should be," he said.
While speculation is rife that the government move is linked to Aamir's comments on the intolerance issue, the tourism ministry yesterday said they had not hired the actor but had left it to an agency to do that.
Tourism Ministry sources today said Amitabh Bachchan, brand ambassador of Gujarat tourism, is the government's first choice as the new face of its 'Incredible India' campaign.
"Amitabh Bachchan will be the first choice of the ministry for the job," the sources said in New Delhi, adding actors Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra are among those under consideration. The sources described the veteran actor as a "non-controversial" figure and noted that Bachchan was the key face for promotion of tourism in Gujarat which has seen an "upsurge" after he was hired by the state.
Bachchan, 73, on his part said he would not mind being a part of the campaign if asked.
"Nobody has asked me but if they do, yes, I would be more than willing to. I do a lot of this for a state and country and I will be happy if ever there is offer to do something." When asked about Aamir's removal, Bachchan said his contract must have ended. "I think you need to clarify first whether he is being removed because of something that he may have said or it's the end of his contract. I am sure that there must be some kind of difference there. I don't think that people are removed just because they did not agree or said something that is controversial," Bachchan said.