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.
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 before 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.