They say legends don’t die. We say the satanic ones do. The ‘Devil’ who took Indian television by storm three decades ago — courtesy Onida’s coming of age advertisement that ran with the tagline, “Neighbour’s envy, Owner’s Pride” — has attained cult status. But even as he made for fabulous recall value, the brand’s recent plans to re-invent itself hasn’t left any space for the bushy-browed baldy with horns anymore. Sad as that may be for fans, the actors who’ve immortalised the devil on screen echo their sentiments.
While David Whitbread, a model coordinator played the horn-y character for 14 years after its inception, television actor Rajesh Khera overthrew him as the second one. Commenting on the demise of a character, Khera says, “I loved myself when I played the devil. His arrogance, sophistication and attitude were infectious. It’s really sad that they’re looking for a new mascot now, but I still think they shouldn’t get rid of him. He’s left too much of an impact on TV viewers.”
Khera also shares a little secret: “I got three of my devil pictures framed in my room. I just loved to flaunt them.”
Film actor Ashish Chaudhry, his immediate successor, tells us about the horror of being ‘him’. “Since I was the only with-hair devil, my prosthetic make-up took at least a couple of hours to complete,” he recalls. “But I completely loved the experience. I remember adman KS Chakrabarty met me at a party and said, ‘You’re the devil’. He didn’t even ask me to audition,” he says.
The last in the queue — actor Amir Bashir — too had a year-and-a-half stint as the devil, but not having many commercials to his credit, made his an underrated journey.
Ad whiz Prasoon Joshi, who’s now scouting for a new mascot for the technology brand, says his team will soon churn out a fresher symbol.“He’ll be modern and youth-oriented, but won’t have any shock value. Though we aren’t trying to soften the ‘devil impact’, the new mascot will certainly have an emotional connect,” he sums up. But the devil will still be the hero. Period.