Before they were stars …..

Let us talk about just a few of the stars who were models before they became celebrity and then stars and superstars.

Shahrukh Khan, perhaps the biggest of them all …. he used to endorse a two wheeler moped / motorcycle called Hero Puch.  He also did some work for Liberty Shoes. As he became more famous he went on to do multitudes of ads ranging from inner-wear, hair oil, to cars.

Aishwarya Rai, again one of the biggest celebrities from India, one of world’s most beautiful women, started as a model even before she became Miss World in 1994.  She did various ads like Close Up and Fair & Lovely, before she got really notices as Sanju in ad that also starred the new heart-throb of India at that time Amir Khan.

The same ad also featured a young model Ritu Chaudhary who later became a famous film actress by the name Mahima and starred opposite Shahrukh, Salman and Akshay Kumar in various popular films. campa cola ad salman





Talking of these big names, we can’t forget that Salman appeared in an ad of Campa Cola in the early 80s , when he was still a teenager.

One of the first model turned actors was the former beauty queen and the girl who changed the image of Indian film actress to a one who was not always saree clad, was Zeenat Aman.  Zeenat appeared in a few ads most notably Taj Mahal Tea, before she hit stardom with her iconic role of a hippy hashish addict in Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

There was a contemporary of Zeenat who was as glamorous and perhaps more beautiful …. Parveen Babi. She also started with print ads before she became one of the topmost 2 or 3 earners amongst the female stars of her time. She was the first Indian actress, in 1976, to grace the cover of Time magazine.

Talking of glamorous beauties with popularity in America are the top 2 actress of current years ….. Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone.

After winning the Miss World in 1994 Priyanka did just a few ads like that of the Dabur Vatika hair oil before she got multiple film offers.

Deepika however earned a big name in Indian modelling world, before being cast opposite Shahrukh for her first film. Close Up toothpaste and Liril were her first notable electronic media ads. Over the years, her trademark smile and perfect figure has made her one of the icons of Indian advertising.

Another contemporary and originally a British born beauty is Katrina Kaif.  She appeared in a Fevicol ad, as a girl who a newly wed groom is shown fantasising, with marriage being the adhesive bond that didn’t let him free. Katrina has since become a big star and is one of the most sought after film celebrities for the past 5 years.

Vidya Balan the National award winner simple Indian woman has appeared in various ads like Gits, Surf and others as a homely wife and mother complan adbefore she made it big as Parineeta, and went on t o win many awards and accolades in films. She continues to be a saleable celebrity because of the conviction and trust she is able to portray in her every performance.

The bubbly girl Preity Zinta did a chocolate ad that made her famous even before she co-starred with Shahrukh in Dil Se

In his early days Rajkumar Hirani the magical director of Munna Bhai series, 3 idiots and PK , used to work in the advertising industry and even appeared in an ad for Fevicol.

Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia were schoolchildren when they became celebrities as Complan Boy and Girl.  I will come back with children’s advertising in a separate post later.


Cele-brand …. a romantic story

Samjhe na - Lalitaji of Surf

The biggest celebrities in India are the film stars. Film stars mean glamour and therefore, it is natural that one of the first known endorsements by an Indian celebrity is recorded in early 1940s, by actress Leela Chitnis, for the beauty soap called Lux.

Lux has been one of the biggest and the most recalled brands for its celebrity affiliation,   as it has been endorsed by almost all the leading ladies of Bollywood and still counting.

Over the history of Indian advertising brands have been endorsed by celebrities. But, many a times, there have been instances when the actor in the advertisement has become a celebrity after that commercial has become popular.

Strangely, two of the most popular non actor celebrities in Indian commercials have been one ad wonders….. The Murphy baby and the Liril waterfall girl Karen Lunel who  both remain the face of the brand they advertised even after many decades.

Many of the modern day actors like Deepika Padukone, Yami Gautam, John Abraham Bipasha Basu, Shahid Kapoor and many others in the past, as well, were models who turned film actors later, owing to the popularity they earned with their ads.

A few others like Maya Alag with her “offoh” in the Promise toothpaste ad, and Savita Chaudhary for saying “Samjhe na” in the Surf washing powder ad, became celebrities for getting that unique recall value for those commercials.

There were also macho men like Karan Kapoor and Shekhar Kapur who did commercials  for suiting and apparels, became quite famous, but never achieved the Bollywood star status.

There have also been, but no small matter, of little children most notably a girl called Ankita Jhaveri, who captured the affection of the Indian masses with her “i love you rasna” innocence in a series of endearing advertisements for this make at home soft drink mix.

Besides the obviously and easily recognisable personalities of the film world, classical musicians, sports persons and other artists have also been used for their celebrity status to create mass appeal commercials

I will continue this tale of wonderful world of Indian advertising and the celebrities and their mutual love affair.

Indian Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrity in India is 1 in hundreds of thousands or even 1 in millions and that is the power an Indian celebrity holds.  It is a lofty place somewhere in cloud nine and yet an onerous responsibilities.

Advertisement and endorsement have existed from times immemorial.  There are records of various types of tree barks, forms of paper and fabric that were used in ancient civilisations to convey messages and posters.  Celebrities turn heads … literally; advertisement means something that turns attention to.  Celebrities endorsing a product is a natural progression in creating of advertisement.

In this series of blogs I would try to look at the various phases, aspects and the ethics and the ethos of celebrity endorsements through the history of India.

I hope you enjoy the series and interact with me to make it more engaging, fun and deep!!