It is still unbelievable for me that I Challenged VIRAT…
The day was 7th August 2013 and the Venue was Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi.
Before going through what had happened on that day, let me take you through a long journey in a short epilog. This started way back in May 2013. I saw an interesting campaign in Twitter by Godrej Cinthol called “#InViratsHead” where we were asked to guess what exactly is in Virat’s Mind. This was prior to the release of the new ad by Godrej Cinthol featuring Virat Kohli. I did few tweets and one of them was selected and I was told I would be sent a hamper. I was pretty happy with that.
The Tweet was “I don’t believe in Hit & Run case. I will hit a Six and stand fearlessly in the stadium”
I did not follow it up for few days. Later when I went to my Mother-in-Laws house in Andhra, I saw another campaign by Godrej Cinthol and this time the tagline was “ChallengeVIRAT”. As usual I jumped into the fray and did few tweets. Within a couple of days, I got a message from Godrej Cinthol “Massive Congratulations to you. VIRAT has accepted your challenge and you will be on a Face-Off with VIRAT”
All this while I thought it was just a contest and never thought even in my wildest dream that I would be playing a Face-Off with VIRAT.
The tweet that fetched me this opportunity was “I would bowl an over and you have to hit six in each and every delivery. Remember, I would begin with a Plastic Ball and end with a Foot Ball”
VIRAT had also replied to my challenge saying “Can’t wait to meet you…”
I became a Super Star all of a sudden with a sudden splurge in my followers in Twitter and also lot of congratulatory messages flowing all through that night. My Brother-in-Law who just arrived from UK then could not believe that I had achieved something really massive….
The campaign continued for two more months. Lot of people were desperately trying to win the campaign some how or the other. Few were interested in gadgets which Godrej Cinthol offered like XBOX and Ipad, few on both but majority wanted to win the dream chance of having a Face-Off with VIRAT.
The next winner announcement came almost a month later. This time it was Adarsh Sinha from Vishakapattinam. The beauty of the contest was whatever the tweets we tweeted and the tweets that got selected and shortlisted were updated real-time on Godrej Cinthol’s Official Website. No one had did this before, I should say, at least to my knowledge.
Adarsh was worried by then since his name was not reflecting on the Winner’s List along with me. I pacified him saying that it may take some time to reflect and it showed up a little later.
In the mean while, MTV VJ Bani had also came up with the Challenge which is almost identical as mine and the same got video graphed and posted by Cinthol. I was proud that I think like a famous persona.
The contest now was getting intense and lots of people all over the country were trying desperately to win the chance to meet VIRAT. Prabhu Damodaran from Coimbatore was the next one to get selected followed by Vineet Banthia from Surat and Prathamesh from Nasik. The speciality about Prathamesh was he tweeted throughout the campaign which ran for 2 months which fetched him this Golden Opportunity.
So all the winners list is announced now. Many were disappointed but in a contest, this is something inevitable as there can be only a few winners…
Now, we do not know when the event will take place but we knew for sure it would be after India-Zimbabwe Series and as expected, a week or 10 days before the event, we were all given a call by Godrej Cinthol that the event will take place on 7th August and asked us to block our calendar.
In the next couple of days, we got SMS for our Airlines Ticket – for Two-Way Journey. We were booked on Spice Jet and Indigo Airlines.
I started early on 6th August to reach the domestic terminal of Chennai Airport. I flew from the swanky new terminal. It was well built with Natural Lighting option which is commendable.
I reached New Delhi by 1:10 PM and I could not find my cab driver but since we were given the contact details of the driver in advance, I called up the driver and he appeared in front of me in less than 5 minutes. It was an Innova and I was driven to Shangri-La’s EROS Hotel. This is an awesome hotel in Connaught Place. One should be here to enjoy its Luxury. Remember, the hotel has a Rolls Royce and Mercedes SLS-AMG to be let out for rent for high profile customers.
Now, its time for me to wait for other winners who all came by around 2:30PM or so. We all went and had our buffet lunch. When we came back to our room, we were shocked to receive a bill of Rs.9000 for 4 but when I went to the reception with the other winners to enquire, they promptly corrected their mistake and apologized saying that all were taken care by the company.
Prabhu Damodaran arrived by around 4PM. Though we were given a car by the company for sight-seeing, we did not venture out as it was raining and used the opportunity to get to know about each other well.
Since the hotel had a free Wi-Fi, we all got our gadgets connected to it and started uploading the pics to the Social Networking Sites like FB, Twitter, Instagram and so on..
We all were given a twin sharing room and the rooms were fully equipped. The view which is had offered was even more amazing. I could see Rashtrapati Bhavan from my room.
We were asked to assemble in floor no.14 for Video Shoot for the Pre-Match. A Team from Creative Land Asia comprising Divyanshu, Sankeet and Charu were present and were later joined by a team of Videographers including Anthony and Neha. The video session went for close to 2 hours. After that we went for our Dinner. We ordered A-La Carte. We were later joined by our Delhi friends Pawan Kumar Jaiswal and Jatin Israni. We went on a small trip in Jatin’s Wagon R and came back to the hotel by 12:30AM. After having a small chat, we went to bed by 1AM.
The next day, Prabhu and I who were sharing the room got up by around 6:30AM. It was a D-Day for us. We got up and got ready. By 10, after having our Buffet Breakfast, we did the check-out by around 10:30AM and were taken to Talkatora Stadium.
By the time we reached there, lots of people have gathered there already. We felt like celebrities as we were clicked by many photo and videographers. We were introduced to Siddharth Kannan – the host of the show, who was happy to meet Prabhu and I since we spoke Tamil.
Virat Kohli came by 1:30PM. The entire stadium was roaring. I was called first since I was the first winner and Virat couldn’t believe that he has to play with 6 different balls. Siddharth Kannan had asked me to give a Rajni dialogue to Virat. I said “Naan Oru Six Adicha Nooru Six Adicha Mathiri” which means “If I hit a Six once,it is equivalent to hitting it 10o times” This was promptly translated by Siddharth to Virat in Hindi for which he laughed. The game had begun. I was the first to bowl. It started with a Ping Pong Ball and ended with a Foot Ball. Virat had hit 3 sixes but he missed the Ping Pong Ball.
Now, it was my chance. Will I hit 4 to beat him? I hit the Ping Pong ball much better than Virat which he promptly appreciated but could not hit others. I lost the match since I could not even manage one 😦
Though I had lost the match, it was a Dream come True occasion for me. What was icing to the cake was Virat gave me a tight hug. Hence after coming back home, I had decided to remove the Tee I was wearing on that occasion to be kept aside as a remembrance forever…
The other challengers went on with their challenge and out of 5 of us, only Prabhu Damodaran could manage to do away with a win by a narrow margin and hence was given a normal size bat by Virat congratulating him. There was also a Wild Card entry from the audience gathered and Pooja Bannerjee from MTV Roadies Contestant No.8 were also present. Red FM gave Event Passes along with Team Cinthol.
Virat then spoke briefly about his association with Godrej Cinthol and why he had chosen the brand before being interviewed by other news agencies.
All who came for the event were given awesome Cinthol hampers and were also served buffet lunch. Post match we were interviewed by Red FM and also by news channels like News X, NDTV, Aaj Tak to name a few. Post Video was done by Cinthol too. Cinthol’s COO was present on the occasion and also the best sales team within Cinthol – Team from Kolkata was present and they all were given gifts as well.
Finally when it was our turn to meet Virat to take few more autographs though we contestants were given a mini bat signed by him, he went for News Coverage and later frisked away to the caravan. When we told this to the Creative Land team, they were not happy and said we would surely arrange a short meet up with Virat. Divyanshu and Charu did that as promised and amidst all the bouncers surrounding the van, we were called one by one inside. We gave our gifts and took autographs from Cinthol… I should say this entire journey was awesome which goes exactly with the tagline of Cinthol – “ALIVE IS AWESOME”
Finally I conclude by saying that this is a mind blowing creative campaign which no one had done it before and doubt whether any one could even replicate this…
Down the line even after few years, I could still remember this event for he being such a humble person despite being a Super Star who has steered India to many victories. You deserve all you have got in your life. Keep Rocking!!!