Gehana Vashisht: National flag, and a gimmick gone wrong
Struggling model wanted to cause a stir. Her canny PR agent came up with THIS plan
Ketan Ranga (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 13, 2012)
A little-known model, Gehana Vashisht, does a photo-shoot wearing a bikini and the national flag wrapped around her bottom, while perched uncomfortably on the rocks. It’s not clear who the shoot is for – the donning of the national flag as a piece of clothing is punishable under Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act of 1971, and there have been previous instances when models and designers have faced trial for doing so.
Regrettably, Vashisht’s photos are leaked, an irate crowd corners her at Lokhandwala, Garden number 4, and starts pelting stones at her car, cracking the rear windshield of the Honda City. When the model, 22, who was formerly a software professional, gets out to pacify the crowd, a stone hits her too, leading to profuse bleeding as often happens with surface wounds.The bloodied model is then taken to Avham Clinic at Santacruz for treatment. This is the story sold to the media by her public relations manager, a certain Santosh Raj, who has handled publicity for a few Bhojpuri films.
But what actually happened was this:
A video shot by a freelance videographer in possession with this newspaper shows that on Monday, the day of the supposed attack on Vashisht, her publicist rounded up a few people loitering outside Oshiwara police station, including the woman in blue, Shantabai Pawar, who protested most vociferously, and why not, the rent-a-protestors were paid Rs 300 for five minutes of shouting ‘hai hai’ and hurling a few stones. The uncut video clearly shows Shantabai and another man giving direction to the motley crew–”Behave sincerely, koi masti nahi karega.”
Vashisht’s car comes into view but zooms away as there are not enough people gathered yet. We hear her talking to a man who instructs her to come back a few minutes later when more protestors have been gathered.
The group then composes itself. Vashisht’s car returns to the spot a few minutes later and stops in front of the protestors without anybody obstructing its path. On cue, the protestors start hurling stones at the car. One man who breaks the rear windshield instinctively smacks his forehead in regret.
Vashisht, instead of staying put and driving away, which should have been her natural response had the attack on her been real, gets out to meet the group. Now, Shantabai steps forward and hectors her for violating the dignity of the national flag. After a while, Vashist gets back into the car, making a show of wiping the blood from her chin where the stone had grazed her.
The entire episode has the bumbling amateurish quality of a bad production.
When Mumbai Mirror contacted Vashisht, she denied it was a staged protest.”I won’t do such a thing for publicity. I was hit by something and rushed to a clinic at Santacruz for treatment. I don’t know who the protestors were or how they got hold of the national flag video,” she said. “It was shot by a friend of mine when we went to the PHE Dam at Chirmiri in Chhatisgarh, and it was never intended to be released but it is also possible that some of my friends who had my laptop for a few days may have leaked it.”
When asked why she never filed a police complaint against her attackers,she says she was “too afraid to do so”.
Shantabai Pawar, the chief protestor, however, had on qualms admitting it was a paid farce. At her two-storied hutment at Anand Nagar in Behrambaug, Jogeshwari, she told us how she is often hired for various protests. She was also dismissive of the model’s poor planning and acting skills. “I was approached at the last minute. Had they consulted with me earlier I would have told them to stage it at Behrambaug with a bigger crowd. It’s a better location, she would have got super publicity.”
Vashisht, who claims to be a software engineer, came to Mumbai two years ago from Bhopal to try her luck in show business. After months of struggle and hardship and negligible roles in B-grade movies like Gudgudi Zindagi Ki, Sarfaroshi, Filmy Duniya and a cameo in an upcoming Kalpana Lajmi film called Kaanch, Vashisht realised that her career was stagnant.
Non-entities like Poonam Pandey through clever PR agents and mischievous offers to drop their clothes had become nationally-known figures. So in the face of protests of her doctor mother and government officer father, Vashisht decided to take a few drastic steps. “I can never do something like a Poonam Pandey I mean I can’t drop my clothes, na,” she said. So she found another way.
POOR PR: GAPING HOLES THAT GAVE THE GAME AWAY
FIRST SIGNAL,THEN U-TURN
Vashishts car comes into view on the other side of the road but zooms away as there arent enough people gathered.At this point,you can see a man signal towards the car,asking the driver to take a U-turn
OPTION A, RUN. OPTION B, STOP
Vashisht’s car approaches the waiting crowd.Instead of driving away,which wouldve been the natural response had the protests been real,the car stops
OOPS,I BROKE THE WINDSHIELD
As soon as the car stops,one of the protestors hurls a stone harder than he intended.When the rear windshield cracks,he instinctively smacks his forehead in regret
AT THE END OF THE STORY…
One protestor walks past the camera saying he made Rs 300 for his troubles.When Mumbai Mirror tracked down the leader of the mob (Shantabai Pawar,right) she admitted the whole thing was a farce