The Curious Incident of the Gentlemen in the Night-Time

Scene 1:

It was the darkest of nights. Not the sort of night for a self-respecting gentleman to be out and about. The night was whispering all sorts of things, again , the sort of ugly stuff that would be of no interest to your average self-respecting gentleman. The message was clear. Gentlemen, stay home.

If one had been out that night, one would’ve witnessed 3 cars tearing along the highway. One would’ve seen the cars turn into the courtyard of the building at the south end of the street. One would’ve watched the cars depositing 12 gentlemen – open to debate – at the doors of the building and one would’ve been excused at thinking that something was afoot. But one didn’t have the chance to do any of these, because one was of course, a gentleman.

The 12 seemed to wait at the doors for someone. Many of the group looked uneasy and even a bit sulky. Of course it would’ve been stretching it to term them the 12 Angry Men, let’s leave it with the observation that there was definitely some unrest.

Soon enough, came a fourth car dashing into the portico and the group appeared to heave a collective sigh. The back door opened and a shrouded female figure appeared. The new arrival seemed to command some respect as the men followed her into the building.

A note to any youngster getting an uneasily familiar feeling ,: From this point on, the plot WILL deviate from that of a Naughty America gangbang video.

Scene 2:

A room in the aforementioned building. 13 shadowy figures are sitting around a rectangular table. At one end of the table, sits the revered female and she has an oblong device of some kind in her hand. At the opposite end of the table is placed a ….. box of some kind.

It looks like a television but the course of events so far would demand something more sinister than an idiot box there, wouldn’t it? We won’t pass a verdict yet, anyone of the henchmen can still walk over to the box, open a hitherto unsuspected lid and take out a goat’s head and a reversed cross and start a Black Mass.

But proving all the interesting suspicions unfounded, the box turns out to be a TV after all, as it turns on to display black and white grains jostling for space. It appears to be operated by the female leading figure using the oblong object in her hand , which at this point, can be safely assumed to be a remote control.

It can be summarily dismissed that watching TV would be the object of such a clandestine meeting of gentlemen at such an ungodly hour. What else could it be, then? The TV seems to hold the rapt attention of all the men. Even though it’s still showing only grains.

One of the men stand up and approach the telephone in the room to make a call. One would expect some sort of development to occur here, he could be letting in the anonymous contact who’s agreed to meet them here. Or convey to the carrier that the coast is clear. A variety of more sinister explanations can lend itself to the man using a telephone at the start of a secret meeting.

The conversation is remarkably short and also achieve the dubious distinction of being the first words spoken all night. He asks for the Cable Guy – obviously a code phrase, whom do they think they are fooling? He asks the “Cable Guy” to “fix it now” . Phht! So cliched for a secret meeting, wouldn’t you say?

He resumes his seat and watches the TV like the other 12. One wonders what interests these men in the grains? As in answer, the grains vanish and the screen is filled with moving images. Images of beautiful women and handsome men. Who are walking up and down ramps to groovy music.

Now, wait a minute. They’re not watching, horror of horrors, FTV? Why would they hold a meeting for that? And in such attention to detail that some of them are using magnifying lenses!

The entire group are transfixed by the images on screen. Suddenly someone yells! “BOOOOOOOBBSSSSSSS!!! YESSSSSSSSSSS!!! BOOOOOOOOOBBBBBBSSSSSSS!!!! WE GOT THEMMMM!!! BOOOOOOOOOBSSSSSS!!!!!” And the meeting breaks to celebratory whoops and yells of joy.

And thus concluded the meeting of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting which decided to ban FTV in India for the second time.

From the BBC report.

“The visuals were found to be obscene, denigrating women and were not suitable for children and unrestricted public exhibition,” the statement said.

Bah, Humbug!!!

Image courtesy : wonkroom . thinkprogress . org

Ad my two cents

When you, assuming ‘you’ to be a middle-class Indian in your late teens or early 20’s, look back to your childhood , what are the sights and sounds which come gushing back? I assume every kid grew up on a standard diet of Doordarshan. The days when Chitrahaar, Chandrakantha, The Friday night movie and dubbed evening cartoons were what we looked forward to, rather than the English Premier League, NDTV or mundane reality shows which pervade TV these days. DD is still pretty much where it was then, like an old uncle napping on an armchair, while the new generation punks zoom around on Karizmas.

With a sea change in TV culture, everything that has associated with it has done the same too. Growth. Change. For better or for worse. We may say that one of the most revolutionized area is that of advertisements. This post is about Ads. Don’t worry, I am not writing about the geniuses and morons who work behind them and I’ll keep mum about the drastic change in consumerism and market which brought about this change. This is just about a few Ads I love and why l love them.

For you old DD lovers, mention of ‘Ads’ usher in a burst of colour and a cheerful chorus of “Washing Powder Nirma, Washing Powder Nirma, NIRMA”. :). Good old days. When advertising was all about a cute model, a catchy phrase and some passable music. Mind you, the templates remain much the same even today, but the layout and the presentation has been absolutely rebuilt, shall I say, repackaged. Speaking about old ads, It’d be criminal if I didnt mention Fevicol, Santoor, Dabur, Vicco Turmeric… Ah, I’m nostalgic.The modern Ad cannot afford to be that simple, simply because of the enormous range of products and the changes in the consumer mindset.

So on to the Ads I love. Down the years, there have been many which I liked. Due to a catchy phrase, due to a clever idea, due to a cute actor, whatever be the reason. Those which I simply LIKED may be too many, but fewer strike a chord with us. So, I apologize to the readers for their favorite Ads which I might have missed out on. Do point them out 🙂

The two-wheeler market is a warzone. There are many buyers , but just as many models and brands. The public has little ear for fancy stats, they look at the glitz , word of mouth and of course, the ads. Little wonder that this field give us some of our best and some of our worst commercials. Bajaj rip ass when it comes to ads. There are too many supercool bikes and supercool Ads from their stable. It may be noticed that , when it comes to bike ads, some companies tend to overdo the style and thus lands flat on their nose. Not Bajaj.

Bajaj Wind didn’t really hit it off but the ad surely captured hearts. Imaginative like hell, the short tale of a man who gets on his Wind straight from the shower and blowdries himself was great to watch. Bikes from the Bajaj clan which hit it off both onscreen and on the road are Caliber and Pulsar. The low growl -Kawasaki Bajaj Caliber- was macho and the song ‘Le Chalne vaale’ which accompanied the tale of a soldier who’s returning to his old sweetheart on a Caliber to find her married, touched hearts. Hearts which were gladdened at the sight of the man accosted by an even better chick on road. The message got across – A man on Caliber fulfills his caliber. The third Bajaj is one of the biggest and best bikes, and had one of the shortest and best Ads. Definitely Male – They said, we agreed. What else could be the sex of the Pulsar which cricked its neck to follow 2 nurses passing by?

The Royal Enfield had an ad which was royal just like itself. One of the best messages ever delivered unspoken was by the crossing which halted trains to let an Enfield pass.

Hero Honda Ads are generally either banal or average though the bikes are admittedly good. I don’t like those girl-impressed-by-bike-ads and ads overdoing the style quotient. Not remembering any other bike ads worth a mention at the moment. Feel free to suggest.

The other field where there exists an interesting Ad-war is the soft drink industry. Down the years, we have seen a lot of ad-battles between PepsiCo and CocaCola. Both have had good and bad ones. Pepsi hit gold with Yeh Dil Maange More series and the World Cup ads where Warne and co. tries to ship Sachin off.There have been too many others, these are the ones which spring to mind. They were fun to watch.but the standards have fallen. Oye Bubbly and Youngistan had me retching . Unimaginative drivel. From their stable, Mirinda ads are never given much thought to, 7Up ads border between okay-ish and good. Mountain Dew . Hmm… 😀 , Fuckall to say the least. There may be folks who love that type, but don’t count me in.

CocaCola team had their best moments with Aamir Khan and fewer with Hrithik Roshan. Sprite ads which made fun of the rival ads came across as funny sometimes – the inaugural one which mimicked Dil Maange more – and downright unimaginative and pathetic at other times. ThumsUp banks largely on the crowd-pulling capacities of Akshay and Salman. Raise your hands, if you were like me, tired of the stunts these steelmen pulled for a measly bottle of sour ThumsUp. CocaCola has hit rock bottom with the new ‘Aaj Tu jashn Mana Le’ series. Pointless crap.

I’ll round off with the field where competition is redefined. Cellular networks.

Airtel was the undisputed leader in creative ad-campaigns. Rahman magic together with some brilliant ideas made Airtel ads more than watchable. One of my all-time favorite ads is the uncut version of the original ‘Express Yourself’ ad. The one with Say yes, Say No, Say something, Say nothing, Confess, Conspire, Speak Out, Express Yourself with the appropriate images in between. The beauty of the Ad is that the images could not get any more appropriate.

Express yourself on youtube

There have been other finer Ads which had cemented Airtel’s place as the best advertised Network provider.

Noticed the use of had,was? Past Tense. Why?Because the Kings of advertising are here. Vodafone.

Vodafone have elevated advertising to an art. Without any stars, too. Unless you count the pug a star. Oh yeah, he’s a Megastar. Wherever you go, Our Network follows.Apart from licking stamps, he signs autographs too. Every ad featuring the pup was adorable, innovative, novel, you name it. The message was put across so simply, clearly and beautifully – Everywhere you go, our network follows. The other ads too had the Midas touch. Be it the very gifted Irrfan Khan making us nod our heads in agreement when he says “Didi To Didi Hei Na? “in his no-nonsense drawl or the guy who goes to meet his soul mate in the elevator, vodafone have had us eating out of their hands.

Their latest one manages the impossible task of raising the bar they set themselves. You know it. The Chota credit one.The setting couldn’t have been more natural. The boy looks exactly as I would, bored with the proceedings, and willing for the exam to end. The girl is very girly, she is cramming in every last word she can and she’s cute. The boy is eager to help the damsel in distress, like Yours chivalrously. The charm exuded by the boyish grin and the thankful smile takes you to another plane. You’ve been there, done that. Now vodafone is taking you back there with the most romantic music, too. The Ad of Ads. Brilliant.

Vodafone Chota Credit

I may have missed out on several other great ads , like HappyDent for instance. Only due to constraints of scope, time and space.

Happy Ad-watching. And feel free to opine and point out things I may have missed.