I looked at the ground in disbelief. A hero at my doorstep, but surely a fallen one. Here he was, one of the first Hollywood stars I admired for his small screen presence, selling something that our government should have banned long ago. Pierce Brosnan, who first came into our living rooms as the lively Remington Steele in the US TV drama that took close to a decade to reach India, was staring at me, white beard and all, selling Pan Bahar on the front page of a national daily. James Bond, it seems, has decided to bond with the best.
But selling a pan-based product, even if it takes you to hoardings staring down at India from pricey vantage points, should be something that you do in times of desperation. Yes, even if you have sold everything from underwear to over-priced whiskey in the years before. But then he is not really doing that badly, with at least a couple of releases this year and a few listed for next year.
This can only mean pan baron Dinesh Jain — seller of “The world most expensive pan masala” — has decided to make the old Bond his ‘Pehchan Kamyabi Ki’. Saif Ali Khan, who used to sell the Pan with the “most stylish can” so far, has sure not managed to impress them with his Agent Vinod antics. I just hope Brosnan made enough money to seal his retirement with this one. If he didn’t then, well, he’s going to find himself panned.
There is one saving grace though. During the one-minute ad, set strangely to the tunes of some techno-style sapera music, Bond uses the “stylish Pan Bahar can” more as a weapon and not once flings the powder in his mouth. Bond’s small mercies, I guess.
Indian companies have over the years started developing an urge to make in India, while finding nice white faces to sell their products. Micromax pulled off a casting coup when it roped if Hugh Jackman to sell its new wares. Etihad getting a Nicole Kidman makes sense given the global nature of the business, but why get Brosnan to sell a product that sells only in India, that too some parts of it, should warrant a news debate.
Also, the one thing I would like to know is if Mr Brosnan had any clue what he was selling? I just hope he didn’t think he was selling a popular Indian masala that would be sold pan India. Also, how does he like his pan masala? Shaken, but not stirred?