A Bollywood actress is facing criticism after faking her own death.
Poonam Pandey's Instagram page announced on Feb. 1 that she had died at age 32 due to cervical cancer.
"This morning is a tough one for us," read a statement posted to her feed. "Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in 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 that we shared."
However, the next day, Pandey returned to her page with a video message letting fans know it was all a hoax.
Before pointing out that Cervical Health Awareness Month was in January, the Mumbai-based model wrote on Feb. 2, "I feel compelled to share something significant with you all—I am here, alive."
"Cervical Cancer didn't claim me," she continued, "but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease."
Pandey went on to share information and resources about preventing the illness, later offering a few words to her supporters that had mourned her death.
"I understand that the recent news of my supposed demise due to Cervical Cancer has taken a minute to digest," she wrote in a separate Instagram post, "and I appreciate the warmth and concern that the world has extended in the last 24 hours."
The Honeymoon Suite Room No 911 actress additionally shared an apology video to say "sorry to those whom I've hurt" with the shocking campaign, which she said took four months to plan.
Albeit for a good cause, Pandey's publicity stunt created an uproar on social media, with users calling out her "insensitive" ploy. "This has literally been turned into a joke for the actual cancer survivors," one person wrote. "Distasteful."
Another user deemed it the "WORST PUBLICITY STUNT EVER!" as a third person added, "Nah man, this is just embarrassing. Have some shame. Yuck."
Pandey, along with media group Hauterrfly and marketing company Schbang, later shared another apology for those "triggered" by the insensitivity toward cancer victims.
"Many of you may be unaware but Poonam's own mother has bravely battled Cancer," their statement read in part. "Having been through the challenges of battling a disease like this at such close personal quarters, she understands the importance of prevention and the criticality of awareness, especially when a vaccine is available."
Calling Schbang "the brains" behind the marketing move, Pandey added in the caption that she and her team "believe in this cause and stand by this campaign," which they said was made "with the right intentions."