The latest advertisement of AU Bank featuring actors Kiara Advani and Aamir Khan has been red-flagged by the Hindutva brigade for ‘hurting’ Hindu sentiments. But it’s the plot of the ad and the unconvincing tying thought that lags.
In the ad, Aamir Khan plays a ghar jamai, a husband who chooses to live at his wife’s house because the bride’s father is disabled. While entering the house after his vidaai, Kiara Advani’s character directs Khan to enter before she does. If they’re breaking norms and challenging traditions why not do it properly?
All is well and good up to this point, but it’s the tying thought with AU Bank that doesn’t satisfy.
In its conclusion, the ad shows Advani and Khan as employees of AU Small Finance Bank, where Khan says, “Hum poochte hai sawal banking ki har pratha se. Taki aapko mile best service (We question all orthodox traditions of a bank, to provide you with the best services).”
How AU Bank breaks away from banking norms is never specified, and the audience is left guessing. The bank never lists the various services that make it a good choice for anyone seeking small finance. Are there less stringent rules about documentation that AU is offering? Flexible EMI return dates? Lower interest charge? More decentralisation of daily bank functions? The core business isn’t promoted.
AU Bank then declares in its tagline, ‘Badlaav humse hai’.
The depiction of a disabled father to show the reason why Khan chose to move in with his wife is also ableist.
Hindu sentiments offended
Let’s be plain, just by casting Aamir Khan, AU Bank had played with the sentiments of the Hindutva brigade. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy–so why not sniff for ‘offensive’ content and propel this ad into a talking point.
Another ad by Bharat Matrimony also challenges the tradition of Karwa Chauth, where the wife breaks her fast midway, so that her husband–an athlete who has his trials scheduled the next day–is convinced to eat. The saffron brigade didn’t find this offensive because neither does the ad feature a ‘Khan’ nor does it depict a homosexual couple. It doesn’t even question any Hindu tradition (neither does AU Bank), but demonstrates the various colours in which a vermilion and mangalsutra-donning wife can be dutiful towards her beau.
One can write scripts around Hindu festivals, and even toy with traditions and norms in the script as long as heterosexual, upper caste norms are upheld.
The AU Bank ad commercial is not path-breaking. However, attacking it over ‘religious sentiments’ is uncalled for and constitutes yet another assault on the advertising industry. It demands condemnation in equal measure.
(Edited By Tarannum Khan)