Critics pan Petronas’ Deepavali advertisement

Critics pan Petronas’ Deepavali advertisement

  • M Krishnamoorthy
  • 8:36AM Nov 6, 2012

This year’s Petronas advertisement wishing Hindus ‘Happy Deepavali’ is a far cry from the affectionate, meaningful and memorable works of film maker Yasmin Ahmad.

The three-minute video clip ‘Let’s do the Dappan’ – a musical depicting people dancing in the streets – is in bad taste, according to viewers who were interviewed.

*Wikipedia explains ‘Dappan Koothu’ as: ‘A folk dance and music genre with an emphasis on percussion performed in Tamil Nadu, India. It has become one of several popular genres employed in film music …

‘A percussion instrument called the Tharai thappattai drum, resembling a tambourine without the jingles, is often used …

‘This instrument can be heard being played in houses where death has occurred to reduce or to suppress the sound of crying or to inform others about a death in Tamil villages. The particular beat employed is called Saavu Adi.

‘It may also be used to express joy. Mostly, this dance form is pretty much accompanied by ‘Gaana Songs’ – a typical song genre that goes along with this dance type. Like in Local Chennai they say, “Like Liquor and Pickle, DappanKuthu and Gaana go together”.’

Launched on YouTube on Sunday, the advertisement is expected to hit the airwaves this weekend, but has already drawn negative comments.

One comment on YouTube states: “For God’s sake, do some research on the Indian festive season… Seriously, in what way does this represent Indian culture?”

Another notes: “This is worst ad I have ever seen for Deepavali. It is a disgrace and insult.

“It’s a thumbs down for the one who conceptualised the ad. Please don’t ever play this ad on TV. I miss Yasmin Ahmad’s ad.”

Former Malaysian Hindu Sangam president A Vaithilingam said: “It is a controversial advertisement from the start. It shows gangster-like Indian characters causing havoc in the community.

“The clip stereotypes Indians negatively as the ones creating traffic jams by dancing in the middle of the street.

“It is something typified with the Hindraf movement and Bersih 3.0 to insinuate that Indians are to be blamed for causing traffic jams. This should be stopped and removed from YouTube immediately.”

Advertisement ‘targeted at youth’

Senator S Ramakrishnan said although the Petronas advertisement is targeted at the youth, it glorifies a passing trend.

Ramakrishnan said the clip does not represent the more than 5,000-year-old Indian culture or the sentiment of celebrating Deepavali among Hindus.

“The advertisement does not portray Indian culture, but is based on the current trend of Tamil films that depict violence, gangsterism and (cult) worship of film stars.

“At the end of the advertisement, the hero emulates Rajinikanth, a Tamil cinema superstar. (The clip) portrays Indians as being a nuisance to society, who should not be taken seriously.”

Although the advertisement appears to be an attempt at hilarity, Ramakrishnan said it puts Indians in bad light by showing them as street urchins and delinquents.

A film director who has seen the advertisement said it is quite clear that it was produced by a team of non-Indians or poorly-advised Indians who do not really understand Indian culture and values.


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