Prahlad Kakkar, the famous ad film maker talks about his experiences with Sachin Tendulkar while shooting for various ad films.
Sachin Tendulkar was about 16 when I first shot an advertisement with him. He was a very shy boy, a little awkward and he didn’t realise what a great player he was. He spoke very little English and was more comfortable with people who spoke Marathi than someone like me who conversed in English and Hindi.
Years later, after Sachin transformed into a confident man, we shot this particular ad based on the song Sachin ala re. It revolved on the fact that Sachin was practicing in a stadium and it is raining cricket balls all over the city. It ended with us showing Sachin sitting on a crate of Pepsi, drinking it with one hand and hitting the ball with a fly swatter. The ad was written in English so it meant that when he plays majestically, he swats the ball and there is no effort involved.
The film turned out well, he liked it and asked for a copy so that he could show it to his family and friends. But the next day he rang me and said, “I want you to kindly change the fly-swatter shot.”
I asked him why, as he liked it and so did the client. If we had to change the shot, we would have to reshoot the whole thing. He said, “I will give you any time. Please, can you arrange to reshoot it.”
I asked him what he would like to use. He suggested a small bat or a stump. I said, I don’t think it would fly and I would have to check with the client.
He then said, “I want you to help me change this because it makes me look bigger than the game. The game will always be bigger than me. By using a fly-swatter, there is a sense of arrogance in it.”
We reshot the film with a stump and it is there for everyone to see. But, what struck me was the humility of this man because he was right on top of his game. He was already a legend by then. I shot ads with him and Shahrukh Khan. As you know, Shahrukh is a big Sachin fan. I also shot an ad with Sachin and Amitabh Bachchan in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It was a great experience for both, even though it was raining and was cold. I think Sachin wasn’t keeping well, but he still stood in the rain and shot the film. By then he had gained enough confidence to stand with Amitabh and shoot the film. I wouldn’t have dared to do it when he was 16.
India has a great dearth of icons. I wouldn’t consider Sachin as a brand. He is an icon and much more than a brand. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sachin are icons. Who else? You cannot assign a value to him. Would you put a value on Gandhi or Nehru? Then, how can you put one on Sachin? There isn’t anybody as they don’t come up to the mark. Sachin is the only guy who can turn around and say that he hasn’t used anybody’s offices to promote his career, asked for favours etc or shown any weakness. If anything, he has shown a weakness for is for the game.
Sachin’s iconic status will stay always. He has broken almost every record in the book. He will always be a legend and long after he goes, people will say, “Sachin jaisa hoga toh.” (If it is like Sachin) “Sachin ne aisa kiya tha.” (Sachin had done like this) He will always be referred to as a standard. When anybody will be compared, in the cricket playing world and not India alone, they will be compared with Sachin. He is ten on ten… Tendlya. The older he gets, the bigger he will become in people’s minds. As a player he will still get out or drop a catch. But, in your mind, he is perfect.
Sachin will always be an example for the future generations. It isn’t about the records he got, but the manner in which he got them. It was always against odds, against fast bowlers and strong teams. This will be a part of public legend. When you tell a story again and again, it becomes bigger and so will Sachin.
— As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya
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(Prahlad Kakkar is an ad film maker who has worked with some of the leading brands in the world. He founded the Genesis Film Productions)