Royal Stag Harbhajan Singh Slaps United Breweries' MS Dhoni-Legally

Linus FernandesAnalyst IIJuly 19, 2011

The warring duo.
The warring duo.Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Can Harbhajan Singh not take a joke?

This is the question raised by Vijay Mallya of United Breweries(UB).

The liquor magnate was slapped with a legal notice by Avtar Kaul, the Singh family  matriarch.

The cause for offense is a UB commercial parodying Bhajji’s appearance for the Royal Stag brand from the Pernod Ricard stable.

The woman is dismayed at the portrayal of the father-son relationship where a Harbhajan lookalike is slapped by his pater for taking the phrase, "Have I made it large?” too literally and churning out huge ball bearings—obviously less-than-utilitarian.

The distressed mother has gone on to charge the UB Group with offending the Sikh community and fostering disunity within the Indian cricket team.

I  viewed both ads—an exercise I would not have indulged in, had this controversy not erupted. An involuntary side-effect of the imbroglio is that there is a lot more interest in the said ads. The best publicity is free.

The mater may be correct in her assessment that the resulting strife could cause disharmony in the team. My first thoughts were that the commercial was funny until you venture upon the Indian skipper commenting something on the lines, “Don’t make it large, make it different.” 

That does leave one with a slight bitter after taste, much like acid reflux.

UB could  have toned down the send-up by having a Dhoni duplicate play the Indian skipper instead. Just a thought. But then why use a stand-in when you have signed on the original?

As long as Bhajji does not feel that Duke’s red cherry  is as leaden as a large steel ball bearing, all should be well within the Indian squad.

Perhaps, Shantakumara Sreesanth will derive vicarious pleasure from witnessing his bete-noire cuffed—even a fake one.

Vijay Mallya refused to withdraw the TV ad saying, “There are several TV programmes that spoof our politicians. What will happen if all of them start sending legal notices?"

Will Khushwant Singh add his two bits? A Santa-Banta yarn, with Dhoni as Santa and Bhajji as Banta?

Quote of the day: 
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. – Terry Pratchett