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Crank’s Corner

Cricket without Shruti Haasan

The crowd at the World Cup semifinal match between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Stadium Thursday last was, we are told, 70 per cent Indian. No surprises there actually. Travelling to Australia, the tickets for the match and the food may all have been costly. But then, it is also a small price to pay when you consider what they got in return: the joy and excitement of experiencing the game without having to, er, experience in any manner that air-conditioner ad featuring Shruti Haasan.

The ad was so mind-numbingly stupid that to escape which I wouldn’t have minded dipping into my entire Provident Fund savings and get a ticket to Australia and watch the matches there. That this didn’t happen was more down to the fact that with my actual PF savings I could not afforded an auto ride to the Chennai airport.

Anyway, for those of you who have not been following cricket World Cup in this country, the ad was aired during the World Cup telecasts probably 5,34,789 times (Editor’s note: the figure 5,34,789 is an exaggeration for humour purposes and the actual number of times the ad was telecast was 5,34,750 only).

The beauty of this particular air-conditioner ad is that you will never be able to tell it even when watching it. Seriously, the ad never once speaks of what the AC’s special features are or under what schemes it is available. Nor does it show a happy family with a young husband and wife and their son and daughter running around the house in bouncy happiness which we all know is the inevitable byproduct of owning any new electronic appliance in that world our ad filmmakers place their characters in. (In real life the entire family would of course be running around laughing too, mostly because they have all become deranged waiting for the service personnel to arrive and fix the appliance).

In this ad what we see is a man who seems to be Shruti Haasan’s secretary talking to what appears to be a serviceman about some number while Shruti Haasan comes and tells her secretary guy to get on with his work. You will be delighted to know when I tell you what happens next. Nothing. For, that is the end of the ad. No, I am not joking. This is exactly what has been conceived to convince us to buy that AC.

In general, too, the ads telecast during this World Cup have been far less convincing than even Umar Akmal as the Pakistan wicketkeeper. Which is a laboriously roundabout way of saying that they have been pathetic.

There is one commercial for a telephone service provider which shows young boys and girls keeping their respective dads happy so that he will include them in their mobile phone bill plan. Like duh. As if parents have a choice to not include their children in their mobile plan. Anyway, you know what the boys and girls are shown doing to keep their respective fathers in good humour? Being regular in academics. Not wearing the pants starting around the knees. Combing their hair at least once every semester. Listening to songs whose lyrics are decipherable by normal human ears. Send at least one sms/Whatsapp message that doesn’t avoid vowels as if they were some form of infectious bacteria.

No that would be too much to expect of the younger generation. If they did any of the above it would be too unrealistic. So this ad shows a girl offering a piece of a doleful pizza to her dad who is so overcome with emotion at the apparent unexpected bonanza. You want to actually shout out, ‘dude, all she has given you is a leftover pizza slice, which if you had left it in the table they probably would have fed it to the sewer rats. And for this you are showing expressions that are appropriate if only she has landed herself a seat in an Ivy League institution.’

And then there is this advertisement featuring Akshay Kumar. I don’t remember for which product it is. But you can’t blame me, as there is just one plot in ads, or for that matter his films, featuring Akshay Kumar. Follow me closely here: He vaults, jumps, runs and bashes up whoever is nearby. Cue for the name of the product that is to be endorsed, which could be a brand of sneakers or a cola or AIDS awareness or Swachh Bharat.

Finally, there is one ad (it has M S Dhoni) for a mobile app which I found a bit meta: In that it relentlessly comes on TV more or less telling you that you now don’t have to watch TV programmes on TV.

Watching TV programmes on mobiles may be a no-brainer. But I think I would still give it a shot. You know why? Exactly. That may be the only way to watch cricket minus that goddamn AC ad without actually going to Australia.