Recently there was a discussion in Varnachitram about Malayalam actor Mohan Lal appearing in the advertisement of a liquor company with that famous selling line, “what’s up this evening?“. The article argued that Mohan Lal should not be blamed for selling liquor. The opposition is against Mohan Lal, an actor who has high influence on Keralites particularly on youngsters, promoting liquor.
Now what made Mohan Lal do the advertisement?
As an Economic Times news article says it’s purely business.
Southern matinee idol Mohanlal is forging a strategic pact with Paul John Enterprises to jointly develop a category of ‘evening snack foods’. Under the agreement, Mohanlal Taste Buds, which is already into the packaged food and restaurant business, will produce and distribute a product-line which could go well with beverages.
The argument of Mohan Lal and his supporters in this case is that it wouldn’t make any change in the liquor conception rate of Kerala just because Lal appeared in the ad. I do not buy this argument. Mohan Lal has high influence on youngsters in Kerala. His promotion of alcoholism can impact these youngsters (school and college students) and make them think drinking is a ‘cool’ thing and thus give it a start, which might lead to addiction for some.
I am not saying that a youngster who see this ad in the TV or movie hall would go straight to the bar and order for liquor and be an alcoholic. Its got something to do with the sub-cautious mind which will come into the action when the situation comes.
Now, let us look into some of the comments that appeared in the VC article that made sense to me (I put some words in bold to highlight).
I believe it will have an impact, Mohanlal is a role model for lot of people, as VC had mentioned in the beginning of this article, they “love him sometimes more than their parents” (interesting!).
In my view messages have a great social impact, eventhough sceptic in us would say “what the heck”, remember people like Gandhiji, Sri Narayana Guru and V.S. Bhattathiripad reformed our society through simple messages.
With concentrated effort celebrities can change the perception of the society, particularly the youth. Today movies promote alcoholism as a stylish recreation and is associated with power and might.
Mohanlal is the most saleable Brand in Kerala and its better used not promoting alcoholism. The brand value of Malabar Jewellery has definitely improved by its association with many celebrities.
And most importantly the following comment made me respect actor Suresh Gopi as a person and a social, celebrity figure. I think Malayalam cinema has never seen such a socially committed actor. Correct me if I am wrong. I hope you all remember him taking two HIV infected kids to their school to show the local people that the other kids won’t be affected with AIDS just because these kids study with them.
In an interview given by Suresh Gopi I read the actor refused to become the brand ambassador of a chewing gum since it proved it would create addiction on kids after he send the particular product to a lab test. That time he had no films at all and was going through a rough stage. The company offered him 15 lakhs to do it. Still he refused to play brand ambassador. That was really nice of him. It underlines the fact that a celebrity has got some obligations towards the society as a whole. Kudos to him.
Mohanlal is absolutely a millionaire. He could had skipped that booze ad. Well if it is for money you are making a lot of it. Then for what? As an actor you spend millions on a film like “Vaanaprastham” which did not collect. But film lovers applauds on your effort to enrich films. It proved you had some commitments and obligations towards the society as an actor. But before acting in a booze ad you had to think twice about your social commitments. Yes you definitely have some commitments towards the society as a whole. The matter is serious. It cannot be shoved aside with a grin.
On another note, a friend who tasted Original Choice after seeing the ads said he would never taste it again because it has a bad taste compared to the other popular brands. He even mentioned that Mohan Lal should have tasted it before being the brand ambassador of it.
To act in a liquor advt is Mohan Lal’s original and personal choice. But to justify it by saying it doesn’t make any social issue is not fair. Instead just say, “I don’t care about the social effects of this advt, I just want to make more money“. People would easily understand this because we know antics cost you a fortune to collect.