'Goa doesn't need mercenary Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors'

Panaji, Oct 1 (IANS) Does Goa need "mercenary Bollywood actors" or some "bitsy film star" as brand ambassadors? Local celebrities think otherwise.

According to Remo Fernandes, a legend in Goa for his musical feats and social positioning, it is much easier for the Goa government to sign up a "mercenary Bollywood actor" than a local who speaks his mind about issues.

"They know it is safer to appoint a Goan chamcha or a mercenary Bollywood actor who doesn't really care a damn about Goa, will never stand up against our corrupt and incompetent authorities for a Goan issue or cause, and will use the money and publicity for self-promotion, not Goa's well-being," Fernandes said on his much-followed Facebook wall.

"Those are the main qualifications required to be a government's brand ambassador, and I for one do not possess them," he added.

Remo, a Goan who lives in the idyllic village of Siolim, 25 km from here, is best known throughout India for his several foot-tapping Bollywood numbers.

He is a cult-figure in Goa who first rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s by lending his music and songs to several popular movements which dealt with social issues like making Konkani Goa's official language.

Ace designer Wendell Rodricks claims that Goa does not need "bitsy film star(s)" for selling itself.

"Though frankly, if they consider Goa as a brand, it is the best brand ambassador for itself...if they clean up and sell Goa, we don't need some bitsy film star," Rodricks said on his wall.

According to the Goa-based designer, 40-year-old tennis star, the feisty Leander Paes, with his part Goan lineage would be a perfect brand ambassador for Goa.

"For brand ambassador for Goa, I suggest Leander Paes. He has made India proud on an international level," Rodricks said.

Three years ago, Goa had for the first time experimented with hiring a brand ambassador for the tourist destination, roping in starlet Prachi Desai after her success in the film "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai".

But the move backfired after a controversy in the local social and media circles, which questioned the choice especially because Desai's role in the film was that of a gangster's moll.

A top tourism destination in the country, Goa attracted nearly three million tourists in the last tourism season from October 2012 to March 2013.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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