Seeing India through the eyes of Amul (pictorial)
The Amul advertisements are well-known in India not just for being the longest running ad campaign, but because of their humour (puns are its forte) and their penchant of picking up on current events to bring home a point. Many of them pun on Hindi/English words and while I will try to explain some if I can, I will not be able to do full justice as I am not an expert in Hindi. Here are some of my favourite Amul ads which appeared in the last year or so. They refer to important happenings in India during this time, and the links will lead to a more detailed explanation.
If we go back to January this year, there was the announcement of the impending launch of India’s smallest (and the world’s cheapest) car. The headline says whether you agree or not (referring to the controversy about whether the car was good for India or not) but the punch lies in the rhyming of the words, Nano and Maano (meaning to agree). As for the sub-head, well!!!
The slapping incident happened early on in the year…when Harabhajan Singh (cricketer nicknamed Bhajji) slapped his colleague Sreesanth. It created a huge ruckus and led to it Bhajji being banned from the IPL. For those not familiar with Indian food, Pau Bhaji is a popular Indian snack – basically a kind of sandwich with a potato filling. As for the sub-head, I love it!
The ad below is about India’s first woman President who was personally picked by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President. But it sure wasn’t an easy choice at all, because there were accusations that a malleable President had been chosen for political benefits.
This one appeared when our hockey team failed to qualify for the Olympics. The head line here plays on the word Shock and Chak. Chak De (Go for it!) is a film about hockey and tells the story of how a not-so-good hockey team overcomes all odds to win the World Cup, and is apparently based on a true story. After the movie there was a lot of hype about it being a great morale booster for hockey in India, but finally, it all came to naught and set some heads rolling in the hockey federation of India.
How about this one!! Seriously!
Popular movies are used as a theme for the Amul ads quite often. This one is a song from the popular movie Jaane Tu…ya jaane na. Basically the song goes: Pappu can’t dance…saala! (Saala is a colloquial term used to address others and it can be used in an evil sense, but in this case it is not used that way). And the ad headline says, Pappu took a chance… khaaliya ! Khaaliya means “he ate it.”
The ad about Musharuff appeared during the time when Mush had briefly declared Emergency to gag Bhutto and Sharif, but it looks ominous now that Benazir Bhutto is dead and some people suspect that Musharuff had a hand in it. The pun here is on the word Musharaffat as Mu means “mouth” (didn’t get this fully) and sharafat means “decency” and kahan hai means “where has it gone”. Notice the sub-head! For those who don’t know, Amul’s tag line is utterly butterly delicious.
This appeared last year when there was a lot of hype about Mumbai being modelled on Shanghai but I think it’s relevant today because when it rains hard in Mumbai and coincides with the high tide, roads get flooded. Doobai, for those those don’t know Hindi, is a pun, doobna meaning to drown.
Related Reading: More about the Amul ad campaign here