A very happy Diwali, everyone!
On this festive occasion, let’s have a little fun. So please, Shri Narottam Mishra, Honourable Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, please do not take offense and ask for this article to be withdrawn, or else…
Here we go.
Have you ever seen a bra — in an Indian TV commercial? Seriously. This viewer could hardly believe her eyes when Daisy Dee first wobbled into view during a commercial break on a news channel; she had to give them a good, hard rub when Lovable Essensuals – muwah – dared bare a little skin a few days later.
Has this ever happened before?
Nah, can’t have.
Hoorah! A first.
And before anyone gets the cute idea of banning them, we’d like to remind them that advertisements for male undergarments adorn our TV screens – and film stars – all the time.
Those who create those TVCs believe there is something virile about men’s undergarments – why else would Amul call them Macho Sporto? In the TV ads, actor Rashmika Mandanna does everything as a young yoga instructor to twist and turn actor Vicky Kaushal into revealing the waist band – just the waistband – of his Macho Sporto briefs. Sigh.
Dollar Big Boss becomes a sign of masculinity when actor Akshay Kumar slithers past a stern female airport security officer, and in reply to her question, ‘Dollar kahan hai?’ reveals what lies beneath his trousers and declares, ‘Dollar yahan hai’. ‘Fit hai, boss,’ she purrs, loosening her hair. Don’t ask what he says…
Actor Varun Dhawan peels off his vest to display rippling six packs and his briefs – enough for his female companion to turn her lustful gaze upon him.
Actors are, of course, the favourite models in TVCs. They sell you any and everything – it’s difficult to say who sells you more, Akshay Kumar or Amitabh Bachchan. The latter promotes detergent powder, warm undergarments (Lux Inferno, if you please), savoury snacks, jewellery, paan masala brands, and anything else you can swallow, wear or that money can buy.
Speaking of paan masala products and brands: they attract the talents and tastes of the top Bollywood actors – other than Big B, there’s Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh (recreating a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham moment with Amitabh), Hrithik Roshan as well as Tiger Shroff.
Very odd of them, don’t you think, given that they know such items are injurious to health – and to their images. What’s the point of developing bulging muscles only to reach out for a flimsy packet of you-know-what and knock it back?
We aren’t sold
Our fair and lovely actresses are also selling us anything they can lay their hands on – but not fairness creams. That product, mercifully, is being advertised less than it used to be—why doesn’t Narottam Mishra threaten the companies which produce them with dire consequences?
Fewer fairness creams maybe but notice how the overwhelming majority of those who model products in TVCs are fair — very, very fair. You hardly see `wheatish’ complexions or brown-skinned individuals and when you do, it can be to satirise them.
Take the Real Activ Tender Coconut water TV advertisement: it stereotypes the south Indian, in attire and accent and the skin colour. Highly objectionable.
May we please see genuine dark-skinned people like us and aim for some inclusivity – you know, sabka saath, sabka skin?
Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone wants to paint your walls, and Spotify your listening pleasure; Anushka Sharma wants to colour your hair (so does Saif Ali Khan); Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit are in a battle royale over whether you should drink Kent RO water or Aquaguard ‘paani ka doctor’; Alia Bhatt orders a mattress for you to sleep on – she also joins Aamir Khan in a series of amusing insurance ads and Kareena Kapoor urges you to Netmeds for your medical supplies.
This is just a sampling of the TVCs out there—the surge in advertising suggests economic activity is picking up, spending in no longer thrifty and Bollywood actors are in great demand.
The other professionals who make the cut are cricketers – notwithstanding India’s poor outings in Dubai at the T20 World Cup. Mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captain Virat Kohli lead the team which features Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, K.L. Rahul and others. Meanwhile, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chairman Sourav Ganguly advertises MyCircle 11, a fantasy cricket game and Fortune Rice Bran Oil for good cardio – he had a heart procedure recently, so perhaps that’s why.
TVCs we can ban
Anything we want banished from our sights? Can it be the TVCs for Yogi Adityanath and Arvind Kejriwal? The chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, respectively, are locked in ad war — besides spending crores on their individual campaigns that have been running and running and running. Adityanath promotes his achievements as CM while Kejriwal’s constant appearances make him the second-most familiar CM face on TV—wonder if that’s the aim.
He’s also selling himself as a deshbhakt, with `Jai Hind. Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at the conclusion of his homilies.
Cricket on radio
Lastly, an award for the most absurd sight on screen.
First up, visuals from around the country of people seated, in neat rows, with a radio before them, apparently listening, obediently, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’. Is this television?
Second, DD Sports. The national broadcaster can’t telecast the T20 World Cup since the broadcast rights reside with Star Sports, but not wanting to deprive its faithful viewers of the competition, it hit upon the Einstein genius idea of telecasting a live radio commentary of India versus New Zealand, Sunday.
Visualise the spectacle: we watched three gentlemen, cramped behind a table, watching something outside our vision – doubtless a TV screen. One kept score, while the other two gave us a running Hindi and English `aankhon dekha haal’ of the game. Is this television, is this radio—is it even cricket?
Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)