Royal Challengers Bangalore fans would recall the 58-ball century Virat Kohli hit against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens in the IPL on 19 April. He was probably in top gear after having practised his driving skills the previous evening. Literally.
The Uber ad that is breaking the internet was shot at Taj Bengal hotel when Kohli was in Kolkata for the RCB match against KKR. Chennai-based actor Mohan Raman was among the three actors who had been shortlisted to play the part of the three passengers who are driven by Kohli, the driver.
The ad delves into nostalgia of the three friends who had seen the 1983 World Cup final together and talks about Uber giving passengers runs on every ride, earn rewards and possibly go to London for the World Cup. Virat has been associated with the Uber brand since last year.
“I deliberately did not discuss cricket with Virat except wishing him well for the World Cup. I asked him if he still had people around him who are not fans of Virat Kohli, the cricketer. He replied, most certainly Sir. I told him to please treasure them as otherwise he will only have people around him who will tell him things he would like to hear,” recalls Mohan Raman.
What helped Raman hit it off with Kohli instantly was the Anushka Sharma connection. The movie `Phillauri’ which was produced by Anushka in 2017 was directed by Raman’s close friend’s son Anshai Lal.
“We got on famously and since I sit in the front seat of the car in the ad, we were together in all the shots,” says Raman.
The ad shoot was directed by Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films and was wrapped up in four hours. There has been some criticism on social media over the stereotyping of Kohli as a Sikh driver.
“Tell them to wait,” says Raman, revealing that there are two more ads in the pipeline. “There are more avatars of Virat Kohli coming.”
Interestingly, Raman has shared screen space with quite a few cricketers in the past. While he featured with MS Dhoni in the Aircel ad, he was part of a Samsung shoot that involved eight Indian cricketers – Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Virender Sehwag.
In this IPL and World Cup season, Kohli and Dhoni seem to be competing in the same space. Like Kohli in the Uber ad, Dhoni also features as a Sikh in the Redbus ad. India’s wicketkeeper is the mascot of the Dream11 fantasy cricket league while Kohli promotes gaming startup Mobile Premier League.