A few days ago, I saw HUL trending on Twitter. The reason? An advertisement based on Kumbh Mela for Brooke Bond tea. There was an outrage against the advertisement over the fact that a man is shown abandoning his elderly father in the Kumbh Mela but soon realises his mistake and comes back to him and gets treated by his father with a tea. I was utterly shocked after watching the advertisement! More so, when HUL tweeted so insensitively promoting the ad. Look at the picture below.
HUL faced a huge outrage against their tweet and their ad, following which they deleted their earlier one and replaced with the one posted below. Why an outrage? Well, any sensible person can see how an advertisement was used to defame an entire culture and population going to Kumbh. The way it was shown clearly presented that Kumbh Mela was an abandoning ground for Indians (Read Hindus). They bring their elderly here and abandon them to get rid of them.
A normal Indian or a Hindu would know that this is far from truth. People earlier used to get lost in the massive crowd and mostly were kids because they are small and can’t be spotted easily, but not any more! Thanks to the wonderful “Lost and Found” centre at the mela. However, abandoning elderly parents! No my dear HUL its not true! People who do abandon their parents don’t need a Kumbh Mela for that! Moreover, we don’t need a preaching from the west who clearly leads in the abandoning category! What shocked us was the generalisation of this phenomena! The tweet by HUL clearly indicated that it was a general practice of Hindus to come here and abandon their elderly parents! The outrage was quite justified! Though they didn’t take down the advertisement but they did tweak their tweet.
Today, just a few days after the tea ad, there comes another ad on Surf Excel. Now, I personally wasn’t offended when I saw the ad, in fact I found it cute! However, it did raise a couple of objections in my mind. To give a background on the ad, a girl is seen taking all the hits of Holi colours to help a Muslim boy appear for his Namaz spotless. When the boy says in the end “Namaz padh ke ata hu” the girl replies “Phir rang padega”.
Now, first and foremost this kind of situation never really happens in India. In fact, on Holi everyone, regardless of their religion play with colours and enjoy wholeheartedly. In my entire lifetime, I have met just ONE person of other faith who didn’t want to play Holi and I respected that fact and moved on. The truth is no Muslim is scared of Holi colours as shown in the ad, unless they don’t like Holi at all and those kind of people exist in both the faiths! They in fact, willingly and voluntarily participate in it as if it was their own! In a nutshell they are not bothered about getting Holi colours on them.
Secondly, why every time a preachy ad for Hindus? Couldn’t they just show everyone playing Holi inclusively if they really wanted to show secularism? While they made an ad on a Hindu festival, they are indirectly trying to preach us to be kind towards people from the other faith and respect their choice of not playing with colours as if we don’t do it already! Don’t you think it’s been happening in India since ages? Have YOU, The Reader, been unfair to any person of other faith? Have YOU, not been helpful and understanding towards other faiths? Then where is this necessity of preaching coming from? If YOU have never done it, then who did? Some stupid people present in both faiths. Do they define who we are and how we behave towards others? No! Both the communities have survived hundreds of years together in harmony even in the presence of divisive forces and elements. It’s because we already are kind and understanding towards each other!
Media is a powerful tool and it can have lasting effects on a mind, especially for a person who knows little about India. It should be used very responsibly because it can make or break an image. Though I still love the advertisement, I would love to see some preachy ads on all different kinds of faiths and festivals equally. Additionally, I somehow feel that this is all done to provoke controversy and trend in the hashtag game. Good or bad, publicity brings profit! After all, its business. Am I right?