The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big B slips into Bond’s suit for Bharat

Mumbai, July 16: Amitabh Bachchan did not own a suit till he was well past his college days. And his first suit came with someone else’s money. It was a gift from an “affluent friend”. But today was another day for the 60-year-old megastar as he signed on the dotted line to become the latest brand ambassador for Scottish suit makers Reid & Taylor.

“College was the time when I wanted to have it the most,” he said. “I had a great ambition to have my own suit because I wanted to be invited to parties and be with people who wore it.”

Bachchan, who will be the company’s new face in India, reminisced about the day when, after getting the gift of the suit, he slept clutching the material tightly. “I wanted to go on feeling the soft cloth on my skin, I wanted to wake up knowing my first suit was for real,” he said and hoped that from now on, he would have an unending gift of suits from the first apparel company he has endorsed.

Though Bachchan and representatives of the company shied away from saying how much the contract was worth, there are indications that it is the star’s biggest advertising contract yet.

Explaining the “significance” of having Bachchan on the company’s pay roll, Nitin Kasliwal, managing director of S Kumars — which arrived at an understanding in 1996 with Reid & Taylor to procure and market the fine wool suiting — said: “When we had Pierce Brosnan (who plays James Bond) as our model, he spoke to India and Indians. Now, we have Bachchan who will speak to Bharat. We needed someone who could talk to all sections of the society, someone who had a very classy yet broad and universal appeal.”

Kasliwal said that S Kumars needed a personality who could “Indianise” the international brand. At present, Reid & Taylor has around 10 per cent of India’s worsted suiting market share, raking in about Rs 2,000 crore.

Keeping with the actor’s image, the new advertisement has a Bachchan who is brooding and pensive, almost mysterious. The action sequences of the Pierce Brosnan ads are missing. It centres around the man instead of the motion.

Asked if the cloth suited the man and not vice-versa, Bachchan said: “They (the company) thought I was good enough to represent their brand. I am a very small person to comment on the brand. When they approached me, I said ‘why not’.”

The actor, however, seemed slightly worried now that he was the model for men’s wear. “Now I will have to spend more time at the gymnasium so that I keep in shape and stay fit for the suit,” he joked. “In fact, I think I will head straight for the gym now.”

He need not worry. With a slew of films lined up for him, there is enough action in store to keep him in shape as Bollywood’s busiest man.

However, even with Bachchan around, the company’s popular tag line of “Bond with the best” will remain. Not denying that the slogan would instantly remind viewers of Brosnan and his James Bond character, Kasliwal said: “That may be the case but here we are talking about bonding with the best and Bachchan fits the bill.’’

To a suggestion if the slogan should be changed to “Bond with the Don” (Bachchan’s famous screen character), the actor said: “I would get myself into deep trouble because nowadays the word has a different connotation.”

He didn’t mind the suggestion “Bond with the B” though.

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