The aptly named INS Vikrant was the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. In Sanskrit, ’Vikrant’ means courageous and there are indeed many untold stories of valour, intrepidity, and heroism associated with the brave officers who served aboard this legendary battleship.
Recently, Leo Burnett and Bajaj V15 commemorated the history and journey of this invincible aircraft carrier with the release of a stirring documentary that evokes wallops of nostalgia.
Conceived as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy during World War II, the aircraft carrier never entered the British service as construction was put on hold after the end of the war.
India purchased the incomplete carrier from the United Kingdom in 1957, completed construction in 1961, and renamed her INS Vikrant. At the time, she became Asia’s first aircraft carrier.
As the ‘mother’ to pilots who flew fighter jets off her deck into war, INS Vikrant served the nation during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and played a key role in the liberation of Bangladesh. For her wartime heroics, INS Vikrant was awarded 2 Mahavir Chakras and 12 Vir Chakras.
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After years of distinguished service to the nation, she was finally decommissioned in 1997 and preserved as a museum ship at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai. With maintenance and upkeep costs becoming overwhelming, INS Vikrant was auctioned to a ship-breaker for scrapping in 2014, with the approval of the Supreme Court of India.
The news of her scrapping was hard to digest for many, but it was finally time to say goodbye to this legendary warrior.
It was then that Bajaj Motorcycles and Leo Burnett found a novel way to preserve INS Vikrant and the folklore surrounding it. Bajaj Motorcycles bought some parts of the metal from INS Vikrant when the ship was commissioned for scrapping. The two-wheeler giant then decided to mould this metal into the bodies of its new motorcycle model, ‘Bajaj V, The Invincible’.
“Since we had brought back the essence of Vikrant in the form of V, we realised that the onus was also on us to bring these stories together and share them with the nation,” says Sumeet Narang, Vice President of Marketing for Bajaj Motorcycles.
So, in collaboration with the ad agency Leo Burnett, Bajaj produced a 16-minute film that celebrates not just the warship but also the war veterans who served on it. It was recently screened at a Mumbai hotel in the presence of veterans Admiral Arun Prakash, Rear Admiral SK Gupta, Rear Admiral Peter Debrass, Lt. Cdr. Ashok Sinha, Commodore Medioma Bhada, and Cdr. H.S. Rawat, who were also part of the initiative.