What is the rationale behind using a famous face in an advertisement? Maybe, to get people to listen. With the TV blaring at full volume, day and night, the average boob tube addict has developed an immunity system which enables him/her to tune out of most of the advertisements and all the extra info bombarded at him. But when the one doing the bombarding is a national idol, placed on a pedestal, these defenses open their gates and herald his/her words with reverence.
So when Shah Rukh Khan appears on screen with his much adored dimple, a six pack that has been in the news as much as the Indo-US nuclear deal, and hair waving in the wind due to a giant fan behind the camera, he grabs everyone’s attention. Middle-aged housewives and working women look at him with fondness, young girl’s hearts go ‘ba-dump’ and even boys follow him from the corner of the eye; though they won’t admit that he is the inspiration behind their makeover. And all that this demi-god has to do is say the magic words-don’t be ‘santusht’, wish for more. The catchphrase enters the mind and firmly entrenches itself, making the viewer reach for the breadwinner’s pocket.
Ah yes! There is more. That’s what we want. Forget the Bhagvatgeeta that says that the world is an illusion, or Buddha who taught the merits of following the middle path. In this glorious world of materialism, the consumer is plunged headfirst into a sea of choices and everyone seems to want more. Whether or not they can afford it is not the issue anymore. What is more important is to have the latest fridge in the market to best the new air conditioner bought by the sriman srimati next door. One-upmanship has reached an all new level. It is all thanks to the sheer enormity of the number of products available, and on-screen demi-gods building consent for those. Fashion brands are aimed at tweens, who have in the past years become the new teens. Already existing teens, the most precocious buyers of them all, have gone beyond just clothes. They want anything sleek, new and wired. In fact, gadgets have enamoured every member of the great Indian family. Not just the bachaas, but the mummies and the papas, too, want the latest N-series flashing from their pockets.
All this craze for more really makes one think. Why are we obsessed with the obsession of wanting to possess everything that catches the eye? A drive bordering on near insanity that never lets the consumer feel content. Satisfaction is transient. It only lasts till the next fascinating buy is comes out in the market. But why should we be like that? Do we really live in such an age where everything is pivoted on the number of zeroes on a cheque? Why should parents feel obliged to buy their children whatever they want? Why do families think they need the biggest television in the drawing room to bond? Why do people feel that the sleekest car will earn them respect? And why, Mr. Khan, can we not be ‘santusht‘ with cable and wish for a satellite dish? All these questions having been exploding in my mind like a mental pyrotechnic display, ever since I saw his ad. I suppose we may have forgotten the other teachings of our texts, but still have the requisite blind faith to follow what our ‘deities’ tell us.
(Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/etamil/212782640/)