Athlete, Olympic gold medallist, youth icon and now, an actor too, yes we are talking about 23-year old Neeraj Chopra who has taken the Internet by storm once again. This time, it is not for his prowess on-field but for his acting skills. Neeraj Chopra has featured in an ad for Cred, a credit card management platform, and impressed millions with his acting chops.
Cred is the same platform that turned Rahul Dravid into “Indiranagar ka gunda and Jackie Shroff into a zumba instructor – but the ad starring javelin star Neeraj Chopra shows him not one but several different avatars.
Ayappa KM, director of the commercial for credit card aggregator Cred said, We were very worried because Neeraj Chopra seemed to be a little shy. But we met him and he was excited about it.’
Earlier this year, Ayappa had turned the former India captain Rahul Dravid into Indiranagar ka Gunda’ for an ad. He had shared that how Dravid would bury his face in his hands after playing a maniac on the road.
“Neeraj was the opposite of Dravid,” he laughs. “Sometimes he would just break down in the middle of a line laughing. He just wanted to have fun, he was chilling and having a great time.”
The commercial delves into India’s hysteria and excitement buzzing around Indian sport’s newly minted Olympic champion. What follows is the POV of Chopra, with the javelin thrower playing several characters. He is a brand manager in a boardroom meeting discussing SEO-friendly taglines. A reporter with a goatee asking personal questions. A moustachioed cashier apprising him of the day’s gold rate. A filmmaker planning biopics. And a wannabe javelin thrower.
“Honestly, we were all worried because it’s a very acting heavy script,” says Ayappa. “Neeraj has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight at such a young age. Overnight, it’s very hard for most people to know how to react to media. If you see his interviews, his current media presence… But he was very receptive and low maintenance. There was no ego and he immersed himself into the characters.”
Ayappa said that the commercial was executed in seven days with elaborate sets built in a Mumbai studio. Comedian Tanmay Bhat and his colleagues at the AIB group wrote the script. On the day of the shooting, the crew had Chopra for eight hours, with the hair and makeup for each avatar taking the majority of the time. But an enthusiastic Chopra made life easier.
“In 20 minutes, we used to bang out a scene. Neeraj said, ‘you act it out and I’ll just imitate you if I get stuck”, recalls Ayappa. “Tanmay and I acted out the stuff and he got it instantly. By the end of it, he was enjoying himself a lot.”