The Layer’r Shot ads have since been taken off air.
One video featured four men who seemingly stalk an apprehensive-looking woman in a shop. “We're four, there's one, who takes the shot?" says one man.
The woman turns around, revealing the body spray, which one of the men then uses, leaving her looking relieved.
In another, four men barge into a couple’s room, one of them saying: “Hey bro, it seems you have taken a shot. Now, it's our turn.” Then he reaches for the deodorant on the table next to the bed, the woman again expressing relief.
Stars such as Chopra, Farhan Akhtar and Richa Chadha branded the ads as “shameful”, “disgusting” and “incredibly tasteless”.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said the videos violated the media ethics code as they were "detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency and morality”.
“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and promoting a rapist mentality among men,” wrote chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, in a letter to the ministry.
“The advertisement is cringe-worthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” she continued.
Director, actor, screenwriter, singer and producer Akhtar, who is also a United Nations Women‘s Goodwill Ambassador, tweeted: "What incredibly tasteless and twisted minds it must take to think up, approve and create these stinking body spray ‘gang rape’ innuendo ads..!! Shameful.”
“This ad is not an accident,” Chadha also wrote on Twitter. “To make an ad, a brand goes through several layers of decision making. Creatives, script, agency, client, casting… Does everyone think rape is a joke? Revelatory! This brand, the agency that made this ad need to be sued for the filth they’re serving.”
Chopra commented on Chadha's post: “Shameful and disgusting. How many levels of clearances did it take for this commercial to be green lit. How many people thought this was ok? I’m so glad that it was called out and now the ministry has taken it down. Appalling!”
Layer‘r Shot, a brand of deodorant body spray for men by Adjavis Venture Limited, has apologised for offending viewers, saying it “never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments or feelings or outrage any woman’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some".
The commercial, which was released on Friday, was viewed as particularly insensitive as it came only a week after a case was reported of a 17-year-old allegedly raped by five men in Hyderabad.
Up to 90 cases of rape per day are reported in India, according to 2020 statistics from the National Crime Record Bureau.