I have in my earlier post ‘Not Celebrities But Excellent Actors’ indicated my aversion for ads featuring celebrities. I may sound a bit prejudiced but as I have already pointed out in my earlier post, an overdose of celebrities makes you lose track of the products being endorsed; if a Sharukh or an Amitabh or Saif is seen endorsing every other product you tend to remember only the celebrity and not the product.
I also feel a sense of loss for I miss out on the opportunity of seeing new talent, after all Priety Zinta and Genelia D’souza started off their careers with commercials.
I find it particularly annoying when a self conscious performance by a celebrity in a commercial is followed by a commercial featuring talented nobodies performing with obvious gusto. Recently I did have this experience; as I was watching the commercials one day I noticed how self-conscious Abhishek Bachachan was in this Idea commercial.His gait, the manner in which he was moving his head from side to side in response to his co-actor’s dialogue reeked of self-consciousness. His co-actor on the hand an unknown lady was free and totally immersed in her role of a harassed consumer. This commercial was immediately followed by the Centre Fruit commercial and I do not think I need to add anything more; once you view the commercial it is obvious the actors are born actors. Their roles require them to do all kinds of crazy stuff and they appear to be relishing each moment of it.
With passage of time I have noticed that actors no longer endorse a product as themselves but as ordinary people therefore you have Sharukh Khan wooing a girl in a commercial and Amitabh Bachcahan jumping with joy shouting “Pappu Pass Ho Gaya Re”. Now everyone knows that Sharukh Khan is married and is not going to woo a girl and Pappu is definitely not junior Bachchan; though I have to grudgingly admit that Sr Bachchan is such a talented actor(unlike his son) that he gets into character without any difficulty. I feel it defeats the purpose of taking a celebrity. It makes sense when an actor is playing himself as in the case of Amitabh Bachchan in the Reid &Taylor and Parker Pen commercials.
In the good old days during the fifties, sixties and seventies when the print medium was ruling the roost, actors endorsed products as themselves. A tag line would state for instance, Ashok Kumar says “I take Aspro” or a particular actress would state “I love Lux or I only trust Lux” or something like that. I know of one actor who refused such an endorsement offer as the advertisers were unwilling to mention his name in the advertisement; it was matter of prestige for him for he was a celebrity and they came to him because he was a celebrity. Incidentally actors were paid paltry sums in comparison to the huge amounts they rake in now.
In fact one person rightly pointed out in response to my earlier post, ‘it’s the same with television shows. They don't trust their ideas and use celebrities’. ‘How true in the past unknown people like Sonu Nigam and Hussain Kuwajerwala became celebrities by hosting shows and now -- do I need to underline the fact that stars are greedily grabbing airtime on television as well?