Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Glory Days

Anita watches Maine Pyaar Kiya to relive the eighties and to provide feminist social commentary on Indian culture from the eighties, and also to comment on Juhi Chawla's cooking skills. When my friend Rahul and I get together, one of the things we end up doing is singing. We sing Indian TV ads from the eighties and nineties. Mostly eighties. What's the relation with the first sentence? Editor to please help.

Vimal washing powder: Babuji, kahaan chale (toing toing toing toing toing toing toing toing), kapade kyun hain maile dhule? Used to be the fellow who was later in Hum Log -- possibly concurrently in Hum log -- then later released a music album, that flopped.

Lifebuoy: Tandurusti ki raksha kartaa hai lifebuoy! Kollu Gautam Krishna, who was later at IITB and went to the same high school as yours truly, was the one behind the outgoing 12th grade class's rendition of the Lifebuoy theme song at the graduation party at Atomic Energy Junior College in 1990. The principal was livid.

Nirma! Washing powder Nirma! Dudh si safedi, ... Used to be Sangeeta Bijlani in this ad.

Prestige: Jo biwi se kare pyaar, woh Prestige se kaise kare inkaar? The funny thing about this is that Prestige pressure cookers are actually unsafe, since the lid clamps down on the vessel from outside. The pressure build up will cause the lid to open, whereas in the Hawkins design the pressure forces the lid shut.

Hawkins! Hawkins ki seeti bajee ... With Neena Gupta. Who was in the other great soap opera, Buniyaad. No wait, I'm thinking of Sonia Razdan. But Neena Gupta definitely released a music album. Which was on MTV. Which flopped (album, not MTV).

Bulbs and tubes: This had the fellow who played Shikhandi in Mahabharat on TV. Speaking of which, anyone remember the controversy over Arun Govil (who played Ram in Ramayan) having visible vaccination marks on his arms while in the garb of Ram? So much for authenticity. And don't get me started on the arrows.

Lijjat papad: Eh henh hainh, eh henh hainh. With that ventriloquist dummy. From the indomitable members of Mahila Gram Udyog.

Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce. It's different. Sir, you're a genius. Shut up, Kitty! With Pankaj Kapur of Karamchand (which my mum and dad never let me watch), and lady who played Kitty in Karamchand. Many variants. I seem to recall Ajith was in one of them. Or an Ajith impersonator.

Yes, we're a sad bunch, Rahul and I. These ads are a remarkable picture of pop culture (or what passed for it). Middle class sensibilities and the like. (As an aside: With all the MBAs that read this blog, is there anyone -- maybe in marketing at the firms that made these ads -- who can get me videos of these ads? Here in the US there are websites devoted to classic TV ads. I would love to setup a website devoted to Indian ads.)

Then there's Thums Up. I sing the Thums Up ad. Remember going to theatres for a movie, and the fellow running on a dusty track, with Gary Lawyer singing, "Because you're the best! Better than all the rest! You gotta taste the thunder! Thums Up! Taste the thunder!" After watching that I always went to the lobby during the interval and got me a Thums Up. Even today Coke and Pepsi cannot compete with it -- that extra jolt of caffeine will get you through the day and night, no problem. In fact, I brought it to work and gave some Amreekis a taste of the good stuff. They could see why it has remained the favorite drink of tired farmers and office workers everywhere in India -- one of them couldn't sleep the night. (I haven't revisited Thums Up and rum since my days as an undergraduate, though. Hmmm. Time to give the visiting in-laws a taste of undergraduate life, eh?)

The Pepsi ad, I never quite liked. Hearing Kapil Dev going, "Yehi hai right choice, baybeeee!" was just not on. The other Pepsi ad (their first one), with Juhi Chawla and Remo, which premiered with much hype, was much better. Kapil was much better at Palmolive (Palmolive da jawaab nahin!). Fellow goes to the echo point in a mountain range and shouts "Sakura!" The echo says "Konica!" (since Sakura became Konica). Fellow shouts "Palmolive," and there's no echo. Why? Because Palmolive da jawaab nahin.

The Amul ads were the best of all. I think there's a book of them someplace. "Krishnan makes Masur ki daal."

Singing ads is not all I do to recapture my youth. Staying up late -- till 3 or 4 in the morning on the weekends (so as to not disrupt work), and watching TV. Sadly, other than reruns of Saturday Night Live, the only thing running then are ads for Jack LaLanne's juicer, the Ab Cruncher, the BowFlex machine (with Chuck Norris), the vacuum food saver, Ron Popeil with God knows what. So I try to find something to read. But usually there's nothing new, so I go downstairs to the kitchen, and cook up some Maggi (2-minute) Masala Noodles that I buy from the local desi grocery, or Top Ramen Curry Smoodles (that I also buy from the local desi grocery). However, now that they've started putting nutrition facts on the packages, the noodles aren't as appetizing.

Anyone remember the truly horrible Maggi Chaat Noodles and Maggi Milk Noodles? The milk noodles were especially yucky. Milk flavored noodles. What will they think of next?

This documentation is due to:
1. Realizing Sachin's career is getting over (I think I talked about this elsewhere -- Jhen please to link (Yes, Sir.
2. Turning 30.
3. Birth of first child.
4. Birth of second child.
5. Approaching 31. (In other words, I'm younger than Jhen.)
6. In-laws visiting for second child and hearing tales of father-in-law's youth.
7. Grey hairs accompanied the birth of the second heir.
8. Black-and-white film that I used for the past 2-3 months, just for the heck of it.
9. Ten years ago, I could polish off entire bottles of booze and wake up fresh as a daisy. Not anymore.
10. Having to shop for a minivan to transport kids, self, wife, in-laws/parents (whoever is visiting). No more dreams of a Toyota Prius. (Yes, I'm a liberal. Get over it.) Next car will of course be for my mid-life crisis. Probably a used Porsche Boxter.

Speck 42

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