Last updateTue, 24 Mar 2015 9pm

#Ludicrous: Celebrities and their (sometimes) silly Brand Endorsements

There is plenty on TV these days to get your toes curling inward. 

From Celebrity Big Brother and Desi Rascals to those Indian soaps where everyone stares at each other for interminable periods and everyone is decked up as if it's Mumbai Fashion Week, there is plenty on the box that smacks of utter ludicrousness.

But there's nothing more ludicrous - and a tad sad - than celebs doing silly adverts. 

Among the saddest of recent years is the series of ads featuring Harvey Keitel - the star of such iconic films as 'Taxi Driver', 'Pulp Fiction', ‘Thelma and Louise' and 'The Piano' - peddling car insurance.

Keitel, however, isn't the first - nor most definitely the last - to take up bizarre jobs plugging the unusual and unexpected.

In fact, Bollywood stars - especially the hugely successful ones - have created a cottage industry out of promoting products, services and even venues, that evoke total incredulity.

Here are some highlights:

Hrithik Roshan - Chak 89


Even leaving aside for a moment what the rumour mill has to say about Chak 89 - the sprawling restaurant cum banqueting venue in south London doesn't exactly scream 'Michelin-Starred' or 'Hip and Happening'.  In the first instance, it's located off an utterly non-descript side-street in the back of beyond.  Once you're seated at your table, the view outside is either of a traffic-logged Croydon thoroughfare or the huge metals recycling yard next door.  So it's perplexing to think that when Hrithik Roshan, one of the most stylish and successful actors in Bollywood, is in town, he's contending with Brixton traffic to get to Chak 89 to enjoy a Chicken Tikka Masala before giving a few dance lessons to the bored patrons.  This is a man who will be paid an estimated £5 million for his latest epic film - but perhaps his recent divorce from Susanne Roshan must be proving a tad expensive.

Shah Rukh Khan - Fairness Cream

Shah Rukh Khan is not only the King of Bollywood he's also the undisputed King of Dodgy Endorsements.  He is the second wealthiest actor on the planet with an estimated fortune of more than $600 million but that hasn't stopped Khan from slowing down on the endorsements range or being choosy.  He promotes everything from luxury watches, automobiles and fizzy drinks all the way to detergents, undergarments and, most infamously of all, 'Fair and Handsome' cream.  In one advert, SRK throws a tube of the cream to a fan who turns up the next day looking like one of those mime artists in Paris - the actor appearing to state that that is the true key to success.  Unsurprisingly, Khan has received a lot of flak for the adverts - not only for its silliness quotient but for being so politically incorrect. 

Malaika Arora Khan - Hips need balm too...

The stunning 41-year-old may be best known for her famous 'Item Numbers' but since 2008 she's carved out a successful career as a film producer.  Her credits include her brother-in-law Salman Khan's 'Dabbangg' franchise, both films of which have been gargantuan box office hits.  Never content just running the ship on the film set, Khan also performed in the hit item song 'Munni' in Dabbangg - only to be hit with a lawsuit for using the name of a pain balm called Zandu Balm in the lyrics.   After settling out of court, she promptly signed on as balm ambassador for the brand - perhaps conscious of the fact that if your hips too have a life all their own, as Khan's does, it is advisable to have a jar of pain reliever close by.

Madhuri Dixit AND Priyanka Chopra - Dishwashing?

Vacuum Cleaner?  Check.  Washing Machine?  Check.  Xpert Dishwash Bar?  NO!  Cue shock horror from Madhuri Dixit, arguably the most beautiful house maid in the history of the world.  The legendary actress – who lives between India and the even more dishwasher-friendly United States - was roped in by Xpert to promote their magical new dishwasher bar.  A dishwasher BAR??!!  To wash a mountain of dishes?  An idea that is even more ludicrous than Madhuri doing the dishes.  Not content, Xpert later enlisted the help of former Miss World, Bollywood superstar and international singing sensation Priyanka Chopra to promote the bar as well.  Why would Chopra, whose list of endorsements include Nokia and Tag Heuer watches, have to contend with a small hill of dirty dishes?

Amitabh Bachchan - Om...eh?

What’s worse than Lady Madhuri washing the dishes?  Why surely, the legendary Amitabh Bachchan plying everyone at a wedding ceremony with an antiseptic cream called ‘Boro Plus’.  While chanting mantras that evoke ‘Boro Plus’.  I just don’t get it.  ‘Nuff said.

Ranveer Singh - Silly AND derogatory...

In ‘Ram Leela’ (We won’t bother with the politically correct LOOOOONG title), the worryingly beautiful Ranveer Singh proved that he would do pretty much anything for love, a drink, a good time.  It appears that that mantra extends to his endorsements as well.  One of those brands was Ching’s Secret, a brand of Indo-Chinese ingredients and set meals.  The notoriously health-conscious Ranveer wasn’t content donning an apron and rustling something up in his designer kitchen (subtlety has never been his strong suite).  Instead, he transforms himself to ‘Ranveer Ching’ and proceeds to dance for a full three minutes.  And it all gets a bit derogatory as well: “I am the CHING boss of a Ping Pong yard”???!!

Milind Soman - The Python...

Shoes are good for many things - running, walking, saving your small toe, kicking butt etc.  But back in the 1990’s, Indian brand Tuff Shoes appeared to think that they were good for a lot of other stuff like the “Physical act of Love” (as Ross Geller would put it) and perhaps fending off dangerous snakes?  The handsome Milind Soman and his then-girlfriend Madhu Sapre caused a sensation when Tuff Shoes (then and…erm…still a little-known brand) decided to show Soman and Sapre in the buff and held together by a python.  And they weren’t even python-skin shoes!

Shah Rukh Khan...again.

It’s King Khan again and even more embarrassing than him pleading with viewers to lighten their skin is the $600 million man asking people to “Call Today, Don’t Delay”.  How utterly random is it for this global icon to be plugging Claim Today Solicitors, a company that provides personal injury services. 

Arbaaz Khan...and Malaika...Coffee or Sex?

Years before Malaika Arora Khan started plugging Zandu Balm, she got together with husband Arbaaz Khan – brother of Salman Khan – to show to the world their undying love, with coffee!  Malaika and Arbaaz outdid Milind and Madhu by appearing in a sensual clinch in a poster exclaiming: “Real Pleasure Can’t Come in an Instant”.  The only thing worse than the innuendo-laden tag line was its horrible grammar!

Salman Khan.  'Chappal' superman...


No list of this nature would be complete without Arbaaz’s’ brother Salman.  Salman’s advertisements are probably as meaningless as a vast majority of his films.  One of his latest is for a brand of flip flops by Relaxo.  But these chappals don’t just give you the relaxed look – they also give you apparent ‘Super Powers’ as Salman is seen saving a number of damsels in distress, walking on water, scaling burning buildings and erm...CHAPPAL-BOARDING down a wintry slope wearing nothing but...erm...chappals and a t-shirt.  The thing with Salman is that it's difficult to tell whether he's taking the mickey or not. 

Divya Rao's portrait
Divya Rao
Divya Rao is a media and communications student at University of London. Born in India and raised in five different countries, she has a passion for entertainment, world cinema, art and travel.

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