• “Sridevi is After All, Sridevi”: The Age of the Super Cool Mom!

    "She has given the lie to the middle-aged stereotype of the housewife-mother precisely because she projects the image of the “cool mom” that has a multiplier effect on the products she endorses."

    Shoma A Chatterjee

    November 7, 2017

     

    Age is just a number. It is usage that makes the difference between a chronologically young person and an older man or woman.

    One does not have to look far for examples. The top runner in this race, if there is one, is none other than Amitabh Bachchan who once is said to have endorsed as many as 68 commodities. Amir Khan stands next at just 52.

    Sridevi has always maintained a low profile in gossip magazines even when she was on the top. Today, at 55, believe it or not, she can give a model half her age a run for endorsements of big brands. A recent article in a Bengali daily reports that this class actress who is as much a star as she is an actress that she has offers for brand endorsements worth Rs.25 crores in the next five years, giving the lie that middle-aged housewives and moms do not have the kind of brand value youngsters like Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor have.

    She has given the lie to the middle-aged stereotype of the housewife-mother precisely because she projects the image of the “cool mom” that has a multiplier effect on the products she endorses. She has been the dream queen for years for millions of Indian fans in India and beyond.

    Her magic, as her ‘comeback’ film English-Vinglish proved, is still intact. In fact, it has changed in terms of its charismatic value and the big corporate giants, who have given the green signal to their advertisers and publicity machinery, think that unlike other Bollywood stars among women, she projects precisely the image these products are ideal for and targeted at.

    Wee Stores TV commercial features Sridevi who is also the brand ambassador for the retail chain of Wital See Marketing Ltd. Within the first quarter of 2013, Sridevi had taken on at least four leading brand endorsements.

    “In English Vinglish, Sridevi played Shashi Godbole, the new age Indian woman, who can take on new challenges while maintaining her traditional values," says Jyoti Narain, executive director of Gurgaon-based Wital See Marketing.

    In 2013, when Sridevi stepped into this territory of brands, she is said to have charged Re.1crore per brand. But today, this must have multiplied several times over. Sridevi says, “In the Eighties, the brand endorsement market was quite nascent.” True, because the world of brands was ruled by top male actors of Bollywood with Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan taking the lead.

    But today, super-cool moms like Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit whose film careers have almost come to and end, are in top demand in the endorsement market for products that welcome the ‘modern mom’ image of a working mother, which they all are.

    A celebrity endorsement provides an alternative to creative ads because creative ads are inclined towards logic and reason while celebrity endorsements appeal to the star value of the celebrities among the watching public and they focus on the strengths of the celebrity – star power, image, and charisma among others.

    Saundarya Anti-Ageing Cream also has Sridevi on board. Her image fits ideally into the mould of the gracefully desi laddu making mother of English Vinglish and looks like she has taken some magic pill to look as young and as charming as she did 30 years ago. She effortlessly makes botox and filling injections look passé. In 2013, she was also roped in to become brand ambassador for Tanishq.

    That young, bubbly, talkative journalist Seema Sahani of Mr. India who had set the heart of Mocambo miss several beats and take somersaults with her hot hawa hawaii number thirty years ago, still sends hearts aflutter with her cool magic that works on all men, women and children and age be damned!

    In a campaign for desi Chinese, she plays the role of the ‘super cool mom’ of post-modern, globalised India who feeds her two growing kids lovingly with “Indian-Chinese” with some secret magic masalathat compliments her magic. Two kids call out to their mother in sing-song tones. The jingle begins to float in the background, composed probably in a blend of raag Kafi and Desh reminding us of A.R. Rahman. But Rahman is not in this script. The audiovisual version has been directed by Manish Sharma, the jingle has been composed by Samir Tandon, Hard Kaur has lent her voice while Reshmi Birag has written the lyrics.

    “Brands, particularly those targeting housewives, mothers and the no-so-young have fallen in love with Bollywood mommies. “If you want to fall in love with brands, then brands have to fall in love with housewives. Mommies are decision makers and influencers. Having Bollywood mommies on board increases the trust factor of the brand. Moreover, they are value for money as they do not charge a bomb,” says said Jagdeep Kapoor, managing director of Samsika Marketing (Economic Times, April 30, 2013).

    But there is really no competition between and among Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhie Chawla and Sonali Bendre. Sridevi is a class apart and still stands a class apart and her mellowness adds to her appeal instead of working against it.

    Vidya Balan recently said in an interview “Sridevi is after all Sridevi and whether she is performing in a film or endorsing a product, she remains unique unto herself. There can be only one Sridevi.”

    Fashion design companies, cosmetic concerns, one Indian and one French, one Indian chain of beauty salons and several consumer goods companies are lined up to persuade the actress to sign on the dotted line. She leaves her other female star peers behind by proving the Shakespearean saying that “age cannot wither nor custom stale her infinite variety.”

    She is not only beautiful and has maintained herself extremely well, but one should not forget that she is an extremely talented actress with outstanding performances. Her ‘portrayal’ as super mom in endorsements multiplies the impact other actresses and stars might have. The body language, that mobile face, those large eyes, the way she carries herself and the dress she wears and that regal attitude are difficult to compete with.

    What strikes in the Desi Chinese commercial is that through its running time, we do not get even a glimpse of noodles. The magic spices go very well with Sridevi’s screen image and her real image – beautiful, charismatic and graceful, as mother, as wife, as model, and as a woman.

    This particular commercial has appealed to all moms across the world, specially working moms who are often in the hair-tearing stage when they must worry about what tiffin they will fill their children’s school breaks with on the one hand and also reach their work places in time on the other.

    Sridevi’s finesse and talent as an actress come to the fore in the I Love desi Chinese commercial where she does not allow tension or nervousness to seep out of the mother’s face or body language. She is truly the Super Mom of the decade and will soon run a race with other female stars in the brand endorsement industry. Mom, anyone?


     

    First published in The Citizen.

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