Oops! BMC puts wrong Modi's phone number on poll ad

Actress Avani Modi of 'Calendar Girls' fame bombarded with calls and messages related to electoral list, after the BMC mistakenly publishes her phone number in a poll advert

Avani Modi
Avani Modi

The wrong Modi has been caught in the electoral crosshairs. Actress Avani Modi woke up to a puzzling mystery yesterday - she had hundreds of missed calls and text messages. She began to connect the dots only after scouring through some of the messages and attending some calls.

Turns out, her phone number had been mistakenly published in an advertisement by the BMC in some newspapers yesterday, asking citizens to reach out through it in case of election-related queries.

Avani Modi

A perturbed Modi requested mid-day to get to the root of the problem. “I don’t know what to do. I’m being harassed. People are calling me continuously.”

She said she couldn’t afford to switch her phone off owing to professional constraints.

“I don’t know who would call me. I could get calls from friends, directors, industry colleagues or relatives. This (the relentless calls and SMSs) is become so tough for me,” said the actress from her Andheri residence.

The actress works with both Hindi and Gujarati film industries.

Made a mistake...
Modi said she wanted a response from Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh, under whose signature the advertisement was issued. “I demand an apology from the officers responsible [for the advertisement].”

Deshmukh acknowledged that Modi’s number had been mistakenly published. He said the mistake had been committed by his juniors. “I have verified the matter.

We’re publishing a corrigendum tomorrow (Friday). I’m also sending her an apology letter,” he told mid-day.

...but we’re not at fault
BMC’s chief public relations officer Vijay Khabale, however, tried to deflect the blame, pointing fingers at the election department, headed by Deshmukh.

“Our job was to release the advertisement to newspapers. My department did not design or draft the said advertisement. But we have realised the mistake and we will issue a corrected advertisement in Friday’s editions of newspapers,” he said, adding that he had had a word with Modi and asked her to switch her phone off to avoid inconvenience.

His defence appeared shorn of any sympathy for the actress. “What can be done now? The mistake was unintentional and we have decided to correct it,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Maharashtra State Election Commission said it had given the BMC flawless information on various voter-friendly mobile applications that it had designed, especially for civic and zilla parishad (ZP) elections.

Call this number
So, what’s the right number that citizens with questions related to the BMC election can call on? It’s 9029901901. A missed call to it generates a message with a link that takes the user to Operation Black Dot, an initiative to woo the electorate to exercise their franchise in the BMC and ZP elections. Operation Black Dot helps citizens find out their polling booth and details of candidates as well as register code of conduct violations.

Her reel life
Avani Modi’s claim to fame is Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls (2015), in which she played a Pakistani actress, Nazneen Malik. Modi is in talks for other Bollywood films, but can’t talk about it at this juncture.

Hailing from Gandhinagar, the actress has two Gujarati films lined up. She features in the comedy, Carry On Kesar, which releases on February 17. Bapu Keh Che is slated to release in May. After a short stint in theatre and TV, she began with films in the south.

She featured in Tamil films like Prithvi Rajkumar’s Naan Rajavaga Pogiren (2013) and Pa Vijay’s horror comedy, Strawberry (2015). She has also done a short film, Gulabee, which did the rounds of festival circuits.

- Shaheen Parkar

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