By Malay Desai
From: Lowe Lintas
Bollywood’s veteran actor Rajesh Khanna faces the camera after years in his TV commercial debut. Directed by contemporary film maker Balki, the spot shows a sepia-toned montage interspersed with the actor walking towards the entrance of a concert stage. While his voiceover talks about his hysteric fans of one time, he is eventually shown facing several electronic ‘fans’ in place of the audience, with a chorus singing a popular tune from his yesteryear hit. ‘Babu Mushay, mere fans mujhse koi nahi cheen sakta,’ he says, with the signature tilt of his head.
Why we Like
In the history of the Hindi film industry, actor Rajesh Khanna is an indelible chapter. Arguably, the hysteria about his long locks and charming persona was not paralleled in the ’70s even by that of his contemporary, Amitabh Bachchan. But while the latter managed to extend his acting career till date (and do umpteen commercials, from the mediocre to lame), Khanna fell off the map, until last week i.e.
‘Kaka’s ‘return’ to face the camera made news, with R Balki, one of the better film makers behind it. In the age of teeny bopper models, getting a frail old superstar of a bygone era is a bold move, (although we heard that it was the old man’s son-in-law Akshay Kumar who put in a word) and the treatment of the ad too is sharp and careful, extracting every bit of the 69-year-old’s remaining appeal. Where, then lies our little displeasure?
Havell’s, the upwardly mobile electrical company has well eaten into the market share erstwhile dominated by Anchor and a few luxury brands. The creative route it’s taken in the past few years has been humour of the ‘PJ’ type and it has worked. We recall their hilarious ‘Bijli’ spot for fans and another incredible one for geysers. The agency, by sticking with the ‘poor pun’ idea for this landmark work, seems to have underperformed.
underperformed. When you have a personality who’s going to give you a buzz just by his presence, what you do with him/her becomes crucial. If you put him amidst a screenplay ending with a silly joke about his stardom, the viewer, like us, might just go, “Agh! Lame!” A more serious handling of the former superstar could’ve been magical here, even with his fragile frame and sunken face. Surely the same brand has done it with emotionally appealing spots for its wires.
On the plus side, the production and copy are lovable, the sepia-toned montage and the ‘Yeh shaam mastani’ tune creating much warmth, only to be undone by the lame joke. Also, it can’t be refuted that the recall for this would be superb; we’d perhaps remember ‘Rajesh Khanna’ and ‘fans’ long later. And besides, it’s many times more magical to listen to Kaka’s words ‘Babu Mushay’ than Big B’s ‘Thanda thanda cool cool’.