Indian influencer Poonam Pandey is being roasted after admitting to faking her own death, with the star insisting she’s “proud” of her antics.
The Bollywood actress and model recently admitted the deception, and explained it was to “raise awareness about cervical cancer”.
Her purported death was announced in an Instagram post on her page on Friday.
It stated she had “bravely fought the disease”.
Media organisations in India took the post at face value and widely reported her death, complete with a flurry of obituaries. Her Wikipedia page was updated to state she had died, and Bollywood stars posted mournful tributes.
A few sharp-eyed people noticed she had posted footage aboard a boat in Goa, apparently in good health, about four days before the announcement.
The 32-year-old conceded to her 1.3 million followers in another video posted on Instagram that her death had been a hoax.
“Yes, I faked my demise, extreme I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we?” Pandey said.
“I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve.”
She’s now being slammed for the “deceptive” behaviour with her hoax dubbed the “worst publicity stunt”.
Indian film director and actress Pooja Bhatt reacted with fury writing: “I never delete tweets but did so in the case where I expressed my shock at news of Poonam Pandey’s demise due to cervical cancer. Why? Turns out the news was engineered by a digital/PR team. Absolute disgrace & disservice to those battling the same-her included.”
Actor Aly Goni also erupted in fury: “F***ing cheap publicity stunt it was nothing else. [You] guys think it’s funny ? [You] and [your] PR team should be boycotted I swear. Bloody losers and to all the media portals we people here trust [you] that’s [why] we believed it.. shame on [you] all.”
Actress Nikki Tamboli chimed in writing: “Absolute cheapness!
“It’s disheartening to witness the depths some individuals will sink to for a momentary spotlight.
“Faking one’s death, especially in the context of a serious illness like cancer, is not just tasteless but downright disrespectful.
“It trivialises the very real struggles that millions face worldwide and breaks the trust of those who genuinely care.”
Her stunt, at least initially, had the intended effect with singer Chinmayi Sripaada writing in a since-deleted post: “Poonam Pandey was highly criticised, to state it politely, for the way she lived. She showed us to live unabashedly, believe in herself, she exposed the hypocrisy in our fake~puritan drama, and in her passing, the star child she is, has created such an awareness for HPV cancer, making this place better than how she found it.”
The disease is the second most deadly cancer for women in India, with about 77,000 deaths reported in the country each year.
Pandey began her modelling career in 2010 and has garnered a reputation for outlandish stunts and risque behaviour.
She pledged to strip for the India cricket team if they won the 2011 Cricket World Cup at home, later posting a video online of her shedding her clothes at Wankhede Stadium where the tournament’s final was held.
Pandey parleyed her fame into several acting credits in Bollywood including the 2013 erotic thriller Nasha, in which she played a teacher who begins a sexual relationship with two high school students.
India accounts for nearly one-quarter of the world’s cervical cancer cases, according to the World Health Organisation, with more than 200 women losing their lives every day to the disease.
Health campaigners have urged the government to roll out a national HPV vaccination campaign for young girls, which in other countries has drastically cut the incidence of cervical cancer.
Originally published as Outrage grows in India after celebrity Poonam Pandey faked her death