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Now, Shah Rukh will endorse good health

TOUFIQ RASHID

Posted: Oct 04, 2005 at 0450 hrs IST

Besides endorsing colas, biscuits and cars on TV, you will now see Shah Rukh Khan in a new avtar—this time, selling good health. Starting tomorrow, the Bollywood superstar will deliver three public service messages on child immunisation.

The campaign, shot jointly by the Health Ministry and UNICEF, follows the success of Amitabh Bachchan’s appearance for the fight against polio. ‘‘Shah Rukh Khan is a mass icon. Immunisation is a message for young parents especially children, and he is popular with both,’’ said P K Hota, Secretary, Health.

While polio campaigns have gained momentum, routine immunisation—protecting infants from six diseases—has not shown any improvement in the past three decades. According to latest data, only 53 per cent children are fully immunised in the country. The situation is worse in Bihar (11.6 pc), Rajasthan (17.3 pc) and UP (22 pc).

‘‘If you need immediate impact, associating a health message with an icon rather than a faceless worker translates into behavioural change,’’ said an official.

In fact, the Health Ministry’s household survey on polio showed that ural population associated the polio campaign with Bachchan. ‘‘When asked how they got to know about it, they said ‘through Amitabh Bachchan’s message on TV’,’’ he added.

Flagging off the massive public campaign, as part of the Rural Health Mission, Shah Rukh’s messages will be shown on all major entertainment and news channels. Popular programmes like KBC, Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki will show the messages during breaks. They will be shown daily during primetime news programmes, too.

The messages, said officials, have Khan at his histrionic best. Each one is a 50-second spot in which the actor poses as different characters—all talking about the importance of immunisation. The messages end with the characters coming together.

* In one spot, shot inside a bus, Shah Rukh acts as a co-passenger, the conductor and the driver.

* In another, he is a suave doctor, a wardboy and compounder in an ante-natal clinic.

* In the third, the Bollywood star poses as a south Indian at a cinema hall ticket counter and then as the ticket checker.

Only once does he pose as himself, talking about immunisation.

The campaign, according to the Health Ministry, is the beginning of a massive media drive. Messages have been prepared on breastfeeding, protecting the girl child and using iodised salt.

‘‘We will be getting more sports and film celebrities for our campaigns,’’ said Hota.

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