Slumdog, caramba, and an old ad jingle

In the search for superlatives, the limits of sense and decency have long been passed. Did you ever think a person living in the Mumbai slums could be so lovingly called a 'slumdog' in the yankee fashion in print and the boom, and everyone would celebrate the triumph of this repulsive rags-to-riches story with obcene hurrahs, and people not even being slightly uncomfortable with the word?

"Woof! Woof! This is all so boring!"

Sigh, the Indian advertisement industry too has ceased to manufacture simple wish-fulfillment messages: of a TV that made your neighbours green with envy, a red soap that could be used alternately as a brick and a magic token for winning football matches, a scooter that 'united' India, or simply those 'amazing whiteness'-inspiring detergent powders of Lalitaji and (oh ho!) Deepikaji that lost their appeal once the publick took to mall-visiting sprees, and chucked all their old clothes out somewhere.

But these are remembrances of things past, and no one can be forced to read Proust anymore.

I was inside a ramshackle Kolkata bus last week when I spotted a rather strange advertisement outside the schlock South City mall:
"You shall be judged by the colour of your skin; your second skin."

In a sense, the product which happens to be some fashionable clothing has become irrelevant: the advertiser with the exaggerated imagination of an ant inside a Myrmecophaga tridactyla's snout is trying work directly on self-congratulatory images and dreams using coloured words. Images and dreams inspiring "colour confidence", and revealing the rest of the world in its true (bad) colours, words that remind you once more of the complex past and confused present that your country suffers inspite of all that fashion the advertisers offer you, dear Neo, this time you get to choose a skin instead of a pill!

"Woof! Colourman, colourman, which colour do you choose?"

¡Ay, Caramba! I have a suggestion, though, and I think I've mentioned it somewhere above in the oblique. But in case you're bored, let's forget that and let me sing for you a old ad jingle of times when you never thought of the big, bad world. And in case you've been wondering, Myrmecophaga tridactyla is the scientific name of a morose 6-ft long snouty creature found in Central and South America that lives on ants.

“Washing powder Nirma, washing powder Nirma
Dudh si safeedi, Nirma se aaye
Rangeen kapda bhi khil khil jaye
Sabki pasand Nirmaaaa. Washing powder Nirma.
Woof. Woof.”

[Credits: See this blog by Vinayak Razdan if you're really nostalgic about the Indian advertising world of the eighties. The image of Lalitaji is borrowed from At the Edge.]

No comments: