All else…is irrelevant
There was this commercial that used to appear a few years ago. In a world of identical looking promos, this one struck a chord, I’ll explain after laying out the hindi storyboard with its attempted translation.
Scene opens with a crowd quietly standing in front of a huge television screen…
All kinds of people in the crowd, a few with the dabs of paint on their faces depicting the Indian tricolor. The camera pans across as they’re anxiously looking at the screen. A little girl, oblivious to the tension in the air, chomps away on a bar of chocolate. There’s a background score playing…slow, quiet, male voice…”humko ye kisne chua hai…” (Who is this who has touched us…)
A living room: overflowing with people staring at the television.
Background…”jadoo sa ye kya hua hai…” (What magic is this…)
A bus stop: a kid in a bottlegreen school uniform…bites into a bar of chocolate…then shadow-practices a straight drive…shakes his head in disgust…then does it again…better this time…then nods in self-approval.
Background…”khel ka rang…chaane laga hai…” (The game is everywhere…)
A couple in their living room: the guy is lost in concentration watching the screen..bar of chocolate in one hand…as his girlfriend slips the contents out of the wrapper and takes a bite.
Background…”dil ki dhadkan…badhaane laga hai…” (Setting the heart racing…)
A barber salon: tv in the corner showing the game…this guy in the chair with u guessed it…chocolate bar in hand watching intently. the barber, in true desi style..twists this dude’s head to one side…the guy keeps turning his head towards the television who the hell gets a haircut when ST is batting?!
Background…”andaaz badle hue hain…” (Changing everything…)
Local convenience store: typical middle-aged owner listening to radio. Kid asks for a chocolate when apparently a boundary is struck. The owner signals four…looks like he’s saying “Its free”…kid grins and leaves
Background…”chaaron taraf mastiyaan hain…” (Everywhere we see, its the joy of the game…)
More scenes in living rooms…people watching nervously…then exploding into celebration…hugs and high-fives all around.
Background…chorus..increasing in crescendo..”humko ye kisne chua haiiiiii” (Who is this who has touched us…)
Final scene…as everyone in the room celebrates…this guy is kneeling at the tv screen…as if to feed the batsman his chocolate bar please..no pun intended!
Finally…the well recognized glasses of milk pouring to give Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate. Background…”Cadbury’s Dairy Milk…mazaa aa gaya”
Damn right mazaa aa gaya (That was fun)! Now, the reason it struck a chord…this commercial was aired during the 2003 world cup…and I can almost smell the coffee we used to brew at 4am (central time) in the morning to watch india’s games. I was to leave on vacation to India the next day and India was chasing an improbable 275 against Pakistan to stay alive in the tournament.
After a quiet first over from Akram, Shoaib to bowl the second to Sachin…
Ball 1: short…wide…quick! ST stretches and goes at it with everything…ball takes the top edge…(they say its medically impossible…but am pretty sure my heart stopped at that instant)…but the ball soars over thirdman into the crowd…first ball and SIX!
Ball 2: straight…FAST!…defended
Ball 3: good length…outside off. ST punches of the backfoot..through the covers…four.
Ball 4: just outside off…left alone to the wicketkeeper
Ball 5: fast, overpitched and on the pads…dont bowl there!:)…clipped sublimely for four in front of square. (by this time the 7 of us in the room are bowing in reverence, arms outstretched, palms facing down…am not kidding!)
Ball 6: good length..straight. ST stands tall and plays defensively. Except that the ball races to the long on fence. Noone’s supposed to be able to do that!
18 runs off the over. Sir Donald Bradman who?! end of the over, the ad I just described in graphic detail appears…now you know
Congratulations Sachin Tendulkar, for taking over the mantle of highest run-scorer in test match cricket. The scale of achievement is not diminished just because it was only expected from a player who took the game to new heights. Who, for the first decade and a half of his career, shouldered the burden of carrying India’s hopes, alone and unflinching. Who never appeared bitter about the doubters who could never fathom what it was to walk out to bat with a nation holding its breath, to be expected to turn the most impossible situations around, to see opposing teams celebrate like the match was won, when his was the only wicket to have fallen. For maintaining dignity and showing class, whether it was after a century, or a zero. For being a true champion.
Can’t help but recall the last line of a print ad I’d seen in an Adidas store some 9 years ago…It went something like this (try as I might, can’t seem to find the complete text of that ad, this is a spurious reproduction)
“When Sachin bats…captains and bowlers think and rethink their plans…
When Sachin bats…school kids forget about their homework…
When Sachin bats…housewives forget about their monthly household budgets…
When Sachin bats…all of India forgets its worries…
When Sachin bats…all else…is irrelevant”
Amen to that!