Pierce Brosnan’s Pan Card

The black and white behind a new pan masala ad


Pierce Brosnan in a still from the ad.
Pierce Brosnan in a still from the ad.

Grey sells. Machismo’s spine remains unhurt. Tuxedos never went out of style anyway. Thugs melt away, empires are taken in a swish and girls trying hard to look sexy in short dresses and diamonds find themselves helplessly in awe of a white dude. All this, as a blue tin filled with substances that can’t be listed as healthy, turns into a grenade to knock someone out. Add a fast car, male abs that you can do crunches on, and you have Pierce Brosnan’s route to bond with India. Now really?

On Friday, 7 October, Indians who still share their morning tea with newspapers woke up to Brosnan of the killer looks selling pan masala brand Pan Bahar. Those who have given up on newspapers couldn’t complain either. Brosnan’s digital dance with pan masala-eating and pan-masala hating types was trending thanks to a YouTube ad followed by cyclic clips on TV.

Now that Brosnan has flashed his Indian pan card and kidnapped all attention through his naked, piercing gaze, let’s chew on the side effects of the actor mouthing clichés—“class never goes out of style” for a pan masala brand.

Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Pan masalas, if you must read what the various advertisements convey, are the prerogative of flashy, “masala” actors. The older the headier. Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee, Saif Ali Khan have endorsed assorted pan masalas in the past. Govinda did too, but let’s leave him and his taxing grins out for the moment. The body language then is of men with swagger; men out to conquer—women, kingdoms, underworld domains, tall mountains, whatever.

Brosnan brings both sugar and spice to this fray. He is white, (ouch), unquestionably sexy, phoren and mature. The barely there sprinkling of blond in his greying moustache is to die for. He is also expensive as celebrity endorsers go and evokes global recall.

But can all these starry values turn any pan masala into a recommended substance? Do they undercut the health risks associated with such chewable substances including those with no-tobacco disclaimers? Will a Make in India campaign collaborate with a pan masala brand because of Brosnan? Will it convert you to serve pan masala to your guests at home or buy a tin for your teenage son this Diwali? Think about it.

Priyanka Chopra indorses Rajnigandha’s elaichi brand
Priyanka Chopra indorses Rajnigandha’s elaichi brand

And while on it, imagine Priyanka Chopra (she has celeb swagger, has endorsed Rajnigandha’s elaichi brand, and has “secret agent” status too), throwing a pan masala tin back at Brosnan. Then let’s see who swoons first.

Its time pan masalas crossed the gender divide instead of racial and geographical ones.

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