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Royal Stag versus United Breweries: Harbhajan Singh versus MS Dhoni?

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

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 look-alike 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


I have been an IT professional with over 12 years professional experience. I'm an B.Sc. in Statistics, M.Sc in Computer Science (University of Mumbai) and an MBA from the Cyprus International Institute of Management. I'm also a finance student and have completed levels I and II of the CFA course. Blogging is a part-time vocation until I land a full-time position. I am also the author of three books, Those Glory Days: Cricket World Cup 2011, Best of Googli Hoogli and Poems: An Anthology, all available on Amazon Worldwide.


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