Wednesday, 1 February, 2023
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Why ad tie-up between Mithali Raj biopic & Usha wet grinder has stoked a controversy

Ace cricketer Mithali Raj is the subject of an upcoming biopic by Srijit Mukherjee, 'Shabash Mitthu'. It will be released in theatres on 15 July.

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New Delhi: Days before the release of Srijit Mukherjee’s biopic on cricketer Mithali Raj, the Taapsee Pannu-starrer is in news for the wrong reasons. The trigger is an ad for the home appliances brand Usha, which seems to have a tie-up with the film to promote its wet grinder.

The ad seeks to draw parallels between the grind that made Raj a “better batter”, and the grind that makes the wet grinder turn out “better batter”. The wordplay — and the kitchen-related connotations attached to a woman sporting pioneer — has impressed few.

While many have branded the advertisement “sexist”, others have termed the wordplay — on grind and batter — uncalled for. Questions have been raised if male cricketers like Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar would have been engaged for such an advertisement.

One user said the ad was counter-intuitive, as it undid everything the film aimed to do. Yet another said the advertisement “was irony at its finest”.

Raj’s career in cricket spanned over two decades and she captained the Indian women’s cricket team between 2004 and 2022.

The biopic, Shabaash Mithu, follows her journey from the time she was a young girl, to the struggle she faced as she followed her dream of donning the blue Team India jersey. It is scheduled to release in theatres on 15 July.

Also read: Cadbury remakes classic 90s cricket ad with gender roles reversed. And people love it

Previous ads with sportswomen

The Usha wet grinder is not the first example of Indian sports personalities — including women sports stars — being engaged for brand promotion.

In 2014, Indian boxer and Olympic medalist Mary Kom was seen in an advertisement endorsing Tata Salt. The tagline was “Maine desh ka namak khaya hai (I have eaten this country’s salt)” — an idiom that seeks to project one’s loyalty to the country.

Mithali’s teammate, Smriti Mandhana, has been seen endorsing Hyundai, where in an ad released this year, she equates the “drive in her” to the automobile giant’s “#TheDriveWithin”.

Mithali Raj, too, has previously featured in Uber’s “moving cricket forward” campaign.  The brand’s tagline was “#TheRoadSheMade”. She has also promoted Iodex pain relief balm.


(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Mithali Raj came when nobody cared about women’s cricket. 23 years later, not much has changed


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