‘Master blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar had a strong point to make at the recently concluded Silver Jubilee Summit of the International Advertising Association (IAA) India Chapter at Kochi, when he said that shooting nowadays does not mean facing just the camera, but scores of mobile phones clicking around all the time, recording everything on the sets. “Even if you have made a fool out of yourself saying wrong dialogue, you can do a re-take for the camera, but it gets captured on mobile phones,” he commented. “It doesn’t help what we are trying to achieve. At shoots, it should be just work and nothing else.”
In conversation with Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific on the stage of the summit, Tendulkar recounted many anecdotes from his years of shooting for ad films, talked about ‘Brand’ Sachin vs ‘Person’ Sachin and also dwelt on the power of visualization in his career, that made him ‘see’ himself playing certain shots much before he actually played them.
Tendulkar was honoured by IAA as an advertising icon and for being “the biggest human brand in advertising” at the Summit.
Picking A BRAND to ENDORSE
First up, Joshi asked Tendulkar if there is any particular way in which he selects a brand to endorse. “I have a management team; we review the offers that come to me. What I consider is whether by endorsing that brand, I can add value to people’s lives, give them happiness... whether I am setting the right example,” Tendulkar said, adding that his father asked him not to endorse tobacco and alcohol brands, and he took that advice to heart, staying away from those brands in spite of being approached by them.
“A good brand can help me and the brand, while a bad brand can harm both. It’s how you plan the partnership and execute it... because once you have made a commitment, it is a relationship that you establish over a period of time and I value that,” Tendulkar added.
‘Brand’ Sachin vs ‘Person’ Sachin
Joshi’s next question was while Tendulkar’s endorsements reflect what he thinks of society, is ‘Brand’ Sachin in conflict with the ‘person’ Sachin at any time. “It has happened on a few occasions,” replied Tendulkar. “In 1988, we were playing in Sharjah and beat Australia in back to back games. When I came back to India, Pepsi wanted to do an ad with me batting with a fly-swatter. I refused, saying I am not bigger than cricket... and it would be an insult to cricket. I don’t want to insult the game that has given me everything in life. There have been a few occasions when I have done things for brands, but this I refused.”
Asked about experiences around ads that he enjoyed the most, Tendulkar recollected the time when he was shooting a Pepsi ad with Amitabh Bachchan, and his children Sara and Arjun, then 15 months old, had accompanied him to the shoot. Little Arjun had orange juice, and happily wiped his sticky hands on Big B’s salwar, leaving a stain. While Tendulkar was embarrassed, Bachchan put him at ease, saying, “I am enjoying this - no one does this to me ever!”
Pitted against professional actors
“How do you feel when you have to face the camera with professional actors?” Joshi asked Tendulkar. The answer had the audience in raptures: “It’s like them playing cricket with me. They’ve got everything to lose, I’ve got everything to gain! But the way actors prepare meticulously before a shot is incredible.”
On the secret of his growing composure on the sets, up from his Luna and Boost ad days, Tendulkar said, “I was extremely uncomfortable. It took me years to open up before the camera. You had to forget about all the people around you and do what you have to do. It took me a long time to adjust to that. Over time, I figured out they also expect the best results out of me.”
He recalled his very first ad shoot for Boost in 1990 and Kapil ‘Paaji’ trying to make him comfortable with the advice ‘bhool jana ki camera saamne hai’. Years later, he said he gave the same advice to Virender Sehwag!
“In more than 25 years of your association with the advertising industry, how have you seen the industry change?” Joshi’s question had Tendulkar saying it is much more professional now, aided by gadgets and technology. “But creative directors nowadays feel free to change scripts even at the last minute, which was not the case earlier,” he added.
The power of visualizing shots
Tendulkar, famous for ‘seeing’ shots in his dreams before he played them, was asked, “Is it something that comes with practice, or is it something beyond hard work, this oneness with the game?” “It’s the constant time spent on the field, batting or bowling,” the cricketer replied, “It has happened to me several times. I have known what the bowler is going to bowl... three days before a match in South Africa, I saw myself playing a hook shot. Sure enough, during the game, I hit a six with that ball.”
So how much is practice and hard work and how much is talent responsible for Tendulkar’s success? Joshi’s question had Tendulkar recalling the gruelling schedule of his childhood, tough practice sessions even during vacations, strict control on diet and complete focus on the game. “I was happy but never satisfied. The most important thing is to be in the right frame of mind... if you are not happy, performance just does not follow,” he observed.
“Whatever field you choose to be in, embrace challenges, focus on solutions, take that extra step and when you think it is time to give up, don’t give up,” Tendulkar concluded.