Entertainment

Cadbury’s new ‘Kuch Khaas Hai’ cricket ad wows with gender-swap twist. Meet its Chennai-based star

Chennai-based actor Kavya Ramachandran plays the cricketer in the 2021 version of the advertisement  

A woman on the pitch. A man cheering her on. A familiar dance to a familiar tune, chocolate bars in tow: It has just been a day since Cadbury India released a scene-by-scene recreation of its iconic ‘90s advertisement for Dairy Milk but the internet refuses to move on.

As screens light up with the new version that challenges conventional, one-sided gender roles, the hashtags #nostalgia trends across social media. Every ‘90s kid is emotional, while Gen Z rushes to catch up with the hype and watches the version brought out in 1994. Some on Twitter call it “updated nostalgia”.

The narrative which is also a tribute to the Indian women’s cricket team (#GoodLuckGirls) sits comfortably on the shoulders of its protagonists and their performances. Directed by Shashank Chaturvedi, the ad by Good Morning Films features Chennai-based actor and educator Kavya Ramachandran in the role of the cricketer, who is earning steady praise for her subtle, relatable performance. Prabhneet Singh plays the role that Shimona Rashi played in the 1994 ad. Though it is a shot by shot recreation, both actors make the characters their own in this contemporary take.

Kavya Ramachandran

Kavya Ramachandran  

 

Kavya says she has not seen the iconic advertisement which catapulted model Shimona Rashi (read: Cadbury girl) to fame. She was born the same year the ad aired. Though she was vaguely familiar with the ad, she saw it in its entirety only when the casting director sent it to her for reference.

Did she anticipate this reaction? “Not one bit,” Kavya laughs. The actor who is active in the Chennai theatre fraternity, also co-founded an NGO called Sukha Education Foundation that looks at bridging the gap between education and employability.

“Once they cast me, I watched the ad multiple times. There was a small amount of fear that came out of the pressure of recreating an iconic advertisment. Once I reached the set [in Mumbai], I understood the gravity of the project. But I was told that it was never about outdoing the classic; but looking at it as an ode. A contemporary version with a twist,” she recalls. The ad was shot, over two days, in Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

As the internet drowns in nostalgia, half of the credit goes to the song: Shankar Mahadevan’s ‘Kuch Khaas Hai’, and Kavya echoes this sentiment. “The music really drove the reaction,” she says. It has once again become an earworm.

Kavya in another still from the advertisement

Kavya in another still from the advertisement   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

As for that hook shot: it was practised and perfected over a three-day coaching camp in Santhome, Chennai . “Even though I have two left feet and no coordination when it comes to cricket, sport is a huge part of who I am. I was so excited to play, or even be associated with a sport on a platform such as Cadbury’s,” says the national-level swimmer whose most recent medal was a gold in Master’s National Games, Baroda in 2020. She recalls how during the coaching little boys threw multiple balls at her, in order to help her perfect the hook shot.

Her fellow teammates and actors were also professional competitive cricketers belonging to different State teams. “I was a little embarrassed to play in front of them. But the girls were so supportive and extremely encouraging,” she says.

According to Kavya, “The beauty of it is that the music was not changed or remixed at all, and it struck a chord with the people as it did back in the ’90s,” says Kavya. “And to be able to see girls, in a competitive sport get cheered on, is very refreshing.”


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:12:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/cadburys-new-kuch-khaas-hai-cricket-ad-wows-with-gender-swap-twist-meet-its-chennai-based-star/article36532645.ece

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