Mallya’s advertisement leaves Harbhajan’s mom fuming

first_imgAce off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, aka The Turbanator, is not in high spirits. This time around, he is the one facing the doosra – a commercial from Vijay Mallya’s UB group which is a spoof on Harbhajan’s ad for a rival liquor brand. Worse, Team India captain and close friend Mahendra Singh Dhoni features in the latest UB ad.Harbhajan Singh’s mother Avtar Kaur claims the UB group advertisement insults the spinner.As the liquor wars spill over into the cricket field, one person who is not amused by the commercial ridiculing her son is Harbhajan’s mother, Avtar Kaur. She has sent a legal notice to Mallya, claiming that the commercial not only makes fun of the spinner, but also his family and the Sikh community as a whole.The advertisement features Dhoni and a Harbhajan look-alike and pokes fun at the off-spinner. It takes off on a commercial for Royal Stag soda, which was a surrogate ad for its liquor brand.In the original commercial Harbhajan talks about the struggles in his life and coming to his late father’s ball bearing factory and is shown contemplating: ‘Have I made it large?’ – the punchline of the spirit.However, in the spoof, a Bhajji lookalike is depicted sitting in a factory of ball bearings, asking the same question – ‘Have I made it large?’ After which, another person slaps the lookalike, cursing and deploring him for making the ball bearings of gargantuan size. Dhoni then takes over and announces, ‘Large chhoro, kuch alag karo (Forget large, do something different)’.advertisementEfforts are being made to ensure that the relations between the two heroes of India’s World Cup win do not sour.Off-Spin Sports and Entertainment Director Sangeet Shirodkar told PTI that Harbhajan is not involved in the issue personally. “Bhajji has been totally kept out of this… and his friendship with M. S. Dhoni has not been impacted in any way… they are still very good friends,” Shirodkar said.In the legal notice, the off-spinner’s mother claims the advertisements can bring ‘disunity’ in the Indian team and should be labelled ‘anti-national’. One of Harbhajan’s lawyers, advocate Shyam Dewani, explained that more than the cricketer, it was his family which was upset at the entire episode.The suit also demands that Mallya’s company first remove the advertisement from the public domain within three days of receiving the notice and also issue a public apology in major newspapers as well as television channels.The McDowell’s ad spoofs Harbhajan Singh where his look-alike (top) claims to have made it large, only to be slapped by his father and later lampooned by India skipper MS Dhoni.”My client is serving you with the instant notice to give you an opportunity to accept your mistake and make amends. Failing this, we will have no other alternative than to take appropriate legal action including that of filing proceedings for defamation, damages and all such civil as well as criminal actions,” the notice, signed by Dewani, said.Those who have been sent notices are UB executive vice chairman S. R. Gupte, president & CFO Ravi Nedungadi, deputy president Harish Bhat and executive VP (corporate affairs) Nandini Verma. The suit also seeks a compensation of ` 1 lakh towards the cost of the notice.While, Bhajji’s family is upset that members of the Sikh community were offended by the ad, the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) did not take exception to it. “This is a personal matter between two individuals.I don’t look at it as more than a joke,” Paramjit Sarna, president of the DSGMC, said. However, not many are sure whether two sporting icons should endorse liquor brands.Surrogate advertising is one way in which companies can promote their spirits. This is done through other products like club soda and music CDs, using the same branding.The information and broadcasting ministry had amended the Cable Television Networks Rules in 2006, laying down stringent guidelines for advertising products using the very same logos as those used for alcohol and tobacco products. However, the change does not seem to have effectively stopped surrogate advertising.Though it is difficult to stop the companies from using such surrogate ads, the cricketers can themselves take a moral stand and not feature in them, as it is obvious what they promote can influence millions of their fans.Earlier this year, there were protests in Chennai where Pasumai Thayagam, an NGO, asked Dhoni not to promote alcohol. Interestingly, Sachin Tendulkar had refused to sign a mega deal with a liquor brand on moral grounds.advertisementThis isn’t the first time that Harbhajan has been involved in a controversy surrounding liquor commercials. In 2006, Harbhajan had to apologise to the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for wearing his hair open in an advertisement for a liquor brand.Dhoni and Harbhajan are integral to the team and the latest incident might not be the best thing to happen while the team is about to face England in a four-match series where India’s No. 1 Test ranking is on the line. Dhoni might plead ignorance in the case, but the fact remains that the joke is on Bhajji.last_img