Poonam Pandey’s Instagram two days ago was deluged with shocked messages from her 1million followers. Yet the previous post, just a few days earlier, was a video of her partying in a revealing outfit in Goa.
The new message on a black background simply said: “This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that came into contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.
“In this time of grief, we would request for privacy while we remember her fondly for all we shared.”
When the truth was revealed, it was met with neither love nor kindness, despite explanations that it had all been done with the best of intentions…
Famous Bollywood posted messages of condolences and fans started mourning. But others already questioned how she had looked so well just days before, if she was so close to death.
Poonam Pandey shot to notoriety in 2011 when she posted that she would strip naked if the Indian cricket team won the World Cup. Since then, the actress and model has built her fan base with provocative statements, images and videos. Her Instagram feed is mainly filled with sexy images until that notorious announcement.
Yesterday, she posted a video, dressed conservativelty, revealing it had all been a stunt to promotion cervical cancer awareness and testing.
She wrote: “I am here, alive. Cervical Cancer didn’t claim me, but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease. Unlike some other cancers, Cervical Cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease.”
While some acknowledged the importance behind the message, it was too often drowned out by an outraged backlash.
Comments included: “I am glad she is alive but please arrest her for this drama and publicity stunt,” “worst publicity stunt ever,” and “You just destroyed your credibility forever.”
Pandey has followed with a flurry of posts explaining her actions, apologising for any distress caused but maintaining that it was worth it to get the message out there that testing is vital.
Repeated posts from Pandey and her collaborators at Schbang and HAUTERRFLY continue to stress there was no intention to offend, and also reveal that the actress’ own mother is battling cancer.
However, the overwhelming and most vocal responses remain those denouncing the stunt.