That there is no love lost between Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan is no state secret. While the rivalry between the Bollywood Badshah and his controversy-courting Bandra neighbour has made many a headline; the battleground has quietly shifted to the mad ad world.
The cola war is passé; as the two heavyweights now compete over, of all things, innerwear. Much hullabaloo was created over Shahrukh's decision to associate Lux Cozi, the innerwear brand from Lux Hosiery, with his IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders. Salman, of course, was roped in later to endorse another vest brand, Dixcy Scott.
Picture this. The Lux Cozi film has Shahrukh being followed by photographers, as he steps out of his car and walks in style, eventually stripping to his vest.
The voiceover says, "Jeet milti hai har pal ko jeene se. Jeet milti hai apni seemaoon ko peechhe chhodne se. Jeet milti hai kabhi haar na maan ne se. Aur phir, jeet milti hai luck se." That is, victory comes from making every moment count, challenging your limits and never giving up; and then, the luck factor is also important.
On the other hand, in the Dixcy Scott commercial, Salman is shown working out, and eventually, boxing in a ring. A similar sombre voiceover runs through the film, stating that life hits you when you are least prepared for it; and the eventual winner is the one who is ready to get hurt, go down and stand up to fight again.
The voiceover says, "Zindagi aur boxing mein jeet ta woh nahi jo sabse zor ka mare…jeet ta to woh hai jo uthke phir khada ho jaaye."
Apart from the voiceovers in both commercials talking about victory; the treatment too is similar, complete with dramatic, slow-mo shots.
Are we talking of the competition between the actors being taken to another level? The respective creative agencies obviously beg to differ.
The Lux Cozi commercial has been done by Meridian Communication; while Makani Creatives is the agency behind Dixcy Scott.
Sameer Makani, managing director, Makani Creatives says that the idea of roping in Salman came much after the whole ad was scripted; and it was not a conscious decision to compete with the other brand. He says the script of the ad demanded a person like the actor, who has seen much upheaval in life.
Whether one buys the arguments or not, creative experts are not impressed.
"This is not by accident. It is by design that both these actors have been signed on for the respective brands; the category has grown aggressively in the past, and there is still a huge vacuum for many players. Both actors have a huge fan base, especially in the small towns," he says.
Padhi is of the view that the TVCs clearly demonstrate the target group's attitude and thinking.
"Both of them (Salman and Shahrukh) have different followers -- one who is macho and his physical appearance plays an important role; while the other one is more matured macho-ness. Both films reflect that. Though there will be a bit of overlap; but whoever did the TVC later has taken a cautious decision to make sure that it is pitched in a different way," he says.
Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group thinks it would be stupid for either brand to want to tread on the other's path.
"It's okay if you do an intelligent spoof of a competing brand; but a similar thought is not something that will be approved. One should always talk about something that is unique to your brand," says Pawar.
It is rather unlikely that we've seen the end of the Khan Wars for a better vest. Especially now that another star from the Khan clan has signed up with yet another innerwear brand. Go figure!