Ashok Kumar with Suraiya
Bollywood, Books

Et tu, Dadamoni? How Ashok Kumar fell from grace in Suraiya’s eyes

Ashok Kumar with Suraiya

There are a lot of distractions while reading eBooks on the phone and Twitter is one. As I was swiping through the pages of Raju Bharatan’s A Journey Down Melody Lane: The Making of a Hindi Film Song on my phone, I occasionally switched to the Twitter app to follow what’s tweeting. In a strange coincidence, as the first tweet about the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case appeared on my stream, I was simultaneously reading the singer-actress Suraiya’s account of Ashok Kumar’s un-Dadamoni-like behaviour with her.

Here’s what Suraiya is quoted as saying in Raju Bharatan’s fascinating book about Hindi film music (and much more):

I found Dev to be the perfect gentleman compared to Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. Why, once, even the highly respected Ashok Kumar shocked me out of my wits by studiedly letting his evidently adroit hand, ever so lightly, graze… I just can’t bring myself to utter the word! It was some time in 1950, I think, while we were shooting for Khiladi. Some Khiladi I discovered Ashok Kumar to be at his age! Instinctively I said: “et tu, Dadamoni?” Whereupon Ashok Kumar just smiled knowingly, almost suggesting that, in films, I should be taking such things in my stride. Well, I was one heroine who would take it only in my decent stride. How Ashok Kumar fell from grace in my eyes that day!

I was taken a little aback by this account (no too much though). The legendary short story writer Saadat Hassan Manto was a good friend of Ashok Kumar and in his unabashed style described Ashok Kumar as someone certainly lacking in courage when it came to women but noted that that didn’t stop the revered actor from staring.

An excerpt from the Ashok Kumar chapter in Saadat Hasan Manto’s Stars from Another Sky:

Ashok was not a professional lover but he liked to watch women, as most men do. He was not even averse to staring at them, especially at those areas of their anatomy that men find attractive. Off and on, he would even discuss these things with friends. Sometimes he would experience a strong urge to make love to a woman but he would never step forward. Instead he would say something like, ‘Yaar Manto… I just do not have the courage.’ Courage he certainly lacked, which was a good thing for his marriage. I am sure his wife, Shobha, was happy about her husband’s timidity, praying that he would never lose it. I always found it odd that Ashok should be scared of women when hundreds of them were willing to jump if he told them to jump.

Download for free: 39 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play
Bollywood, Books, Consumer Awareness, Downloads, Movies, Music, Sports

Download for free: 40 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play

Disclosure: I am an ebook evangelist.

Update 2: As expected, Google and HarperCollins India seems to have been alerted of the leak and the free fest is now over. I hope the early birds got their worms.

Update 1: The free ebook count is now 40 (up from 39). Thanks Amit! Also URL structure changed to point to Google Play instead of Google Books.

There are tons of free ebooks available on the online bookstores, but much of them are books that are out of copyright (and also quite a lot of erotica), but very little of quality contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Once in a while an Amazon India will give away a free ebook a day for a couple of weeks, and that’s all. Therefore when I stumbled upon this stash of free ebooks on Google Play I couldn’t hide my excitement and immediately announced the discovery in a series of tweets [1] [2] [3] [4].

Download for free: 40 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play

Though the custodian-of-Bollywood-trivia Diptakirti Chaudhuri pointed out that the entire HarperCollins film books catalogue seemed to be up for free, but the sceptical journalist part of me took over and after the initial denial that was followed by further investigation the conclusion is the not only the film books, but almost the entire HarperCollins India ebook collection on Google Play seems to be available for free and I could dig out 39 of them (so what if 39 40 doesn’t seem to be a big number, when it is all for free it is). Interestingly, these books don’t seem to appear under the free tab on Google Play.

Not sure if this is by desire, deceit or just a benevolent bug, but whatever it is download your copy now, lest amendments are made. I checked the other websites, and these books were selling at their usual prices.

Google may ask for your credit/debit card details in case you haven’t already signed up for Google Wallet and also make an temporary authorisation charge of Rs 50, that according to Google should “automatically expire from your statement in a few days.”

List of HarperCollins India free ebooks on Google Play
(In alphabetical order)

  1. Amul’s India [Read my review of the book here]
  2. Arzee The Dwarf, Chandrahas Choudhary
  3. Best Indian Short Stories – Vol. I, Khushwant Singh
  4. Best Indian Short Stories – Vol. II, Khushwant Singh
  5. Black Ice, Mahmudul Haque
  6. Bobby: The Complete Story, KA Abbas
  7. Calcutta Exile, Bunny Suraiya
  8. Chinese Whiskers, Pallavi Aiyar
  9. Controversially Yours, Shoaib Akhtar
  10. Deewar, Vinay Lal
  11. Delhi Noir, Hirsh Sawhney
  12. Gods and Godmen of India, Khushwant Singh
  13. Headley And I, S Hussain Zaidi
  14. I, Steve – Steve Jobs In His Own Words, Steve Jobs
  15. India – A Traveller’s Literary Companion, Chandrahas Choudhury
  16. India An Introduction, Khushwant Singh
  17. Jaane Bhee Do Yaaro, Jai Arjun Singh
  18. Keep The Change, Nirupama Subramaniam
  19. May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, Arnab Ray
  20. Mediocre But Arrogant, Abhijit Bhaduri
  21. More Salt Than Pepper: Dropping Anchor with Karan Thapar, Karan Thapar
  22. Mother Maiden Mistress, Bhawana Sommya
  23. Olympics – The India Story, Boria Majumdar
  24. Potato Chips, Anushman Mohan
  25. Ravan And Eddie, Kiran Nagarkar
  26. RD Burman: The Man, The Music, Balaji Vittal
  27. Sex, Scotch & Scholarship, Khushwant Singh
  28. Tanzeem, Mukul Deva
  29. The Best Advice I Ever Got, The Business Today Team
  30. The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju: The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud, Kingshuk Nag
  31. The Householder, Amitabh Bagchi
  32. The Impatient Optimist – Bill Gates In His Words, Bill Gates
  33. The Intolerant Indian – Why We Must Rediscover A Liberal Space, Gautam Adhikari
  34. The Maruti Story, R C Bhargava (Link courtesy: Amit Agarwal
  35. The Moslems Are Coming, Azad Essa
  36. The Other Indians: A Political And Cultural History of South Asians In America, Vinay Lal
  37. The Sacred Grove, Daman Singh
  38. The Sikhs, Khushwant Singh
  39. The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs Of Delhi, Sadia Dehlvi
  40. Women And Men In My Life, Khushwant Singh
Ad Videos, Advertising, Books, Downloads, History, India, Lists, Outdoor Ads, Print Ads, Reviews, Videos, Vintage Indian Ads

The Amul girl isn’t 50, yet: Trivia, an awesome image and a movie

Utterly, butterly, ignoramus!

Amul moppetI am a sucker for anniversaries. They give an opportunity to celebrate something that you want to and the occasion guarantees that readers notice (and also appreciate) your celebration.

Was a bit surprised to find that the Indian media was marking the 50th anniversary of the Amul moppet, whereas her golden jubilee year is a good four years away. Many of the stories that appeared are self-contradictory. While the headlines announced that she was 50, the text mentioned a year that doesn’t total up to 50 in 2012. Given that the Amul mascot is female, we ought to be extra careful in the matters of age.

The reason behind this recent interest is because of a book (that I bought almost a month ago) – that some of the reports erroneously stated was a coffee table book.

Given the popularity of the Amul girl, we wanted the book to be accessible to a larger audience and decided to do an affordable paperback instead of a coffee-table tome.

The book in question is Amul’s India it was the subtitle that caused the age fudging – ‘Based on 50 years of Amul advertising by daCunha Communications’.

This post is a five in one – a myth buster (read above), a trivia list (begins immediately after this paragraph), a book review, a 50-megapixel mosaic and an 1 hour and 36 minutes long ad film. Ek ke saath chaar free! Free! Free! Free! Free!

That I am also a sucker for lists. Here is a little list of interesting facts about the Amul advertising campaign that I think you should know (just in case you don’t already). A little review of the book follows the list.

  1. The Amul brand was actually registered eight years before the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, which now markets the brand, was established.
  2. Amul butter had been selling in the market for 10 years before the Amul moppet was conceived.
  3. The ‘Utterly’ tagline was suggested by author Nisha daCunha, who is also the wife of Sylvester daCunha, the man behind the Amul butter advertising and chairman of daCunha Communications that has been handling the Amul Butter account for 46 years.
  4. The Amul girl was born in 1966 (that makes her 46 and not 50).
  5. The moppet was created by Eustace Fernandes, who was then the art director at daCunha Communications. Fernandes passed away in March 2010.
  6. The first of the ads featuring the girl in the polka dotted frock and a matching ribbon were not the huge hoardings that we are more acquainted with, but were put up on a few lamposts in Mumbai.
  7. The first ever hoarding featuring the Amul girl had her saying a bedtime prayer (see the ad below). Interestingly, in her first major appearance the Amul girl wasn’t in her trademark polka-dotted frock.
  8. The first Amul hoarding ever (1966)

  9. Before the ‘Utterly, butterly, delicious’ tagline, Amul was positioned as ‘processed from the purest milk under the most hygienic conditions by a diary co-operative in Gujarat’.
  10. The Amul Management (including Dr Verghese Kurien) did not interfere in the making of the ads and daCunha Communications did not even need to get their approval before putting up the ads.
  11. While Amul ads are not known to trigger a controversy, but there have been a few ads that many objected to. The most controversial Amul butter ad of all time was perhaps the one after incidents of UK authorities conducting virginity tests on Indian women arriving at London airport. The text said “Indian virgin needs no urgin’!” Following protests Amul came up with another billboard apologising for the ad (See below)
  12. Most controversial Amul butter ad ever (Virginity tests)

  13. There have been over 4000 Amul butter hoarding till date.
  14. Indian TV’s funny man Cyrus Broacha worked as a trainee copywriter with daCunha and of the many Amul hoardings that he helped conceive was the famous “Lara, kya mara!” following Brian Lara smashing Garry Sobers’ record for the highest score in Test cricket.
  15. Jagmahon Dalmiya had tried to sue Amul for Rs 500 crores for a hoarding that said “Dalmiya mein kuch kala hai? Amul Maska khao, paisa nahin’ but had other thoughts when the courts required him to deposit 10 per cent of the amount. 915
  16. The Ramalinga Raju (Satyam, Sharam, Scandalam) ad following the Satyam scam drew the ire of the Satyam board and they sent a letter demanding an apology else Satyam employees would quit consuming Amul products in protest.
  17. In April 1995 the Election Commission got an Amul Butter hoarding painted black. The ad showed Congressman in a tug-of-war with the hand symbol and the Commission interpreted it as a political advertisement.
  18. Pia Benegal, Shyam Benegal’s daughter had as a kindergarten student lent her voice for the ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ ad jingle.
  19. The present Amul Butter cartoons are drawn by Jayant Rane.
  20. There are 90 Amul Hoarding locations across India.
  21. Amul Butter ads are also printed in 22 newspapers.
  22. 120 different Amul Butter hoardings were produced in 2011.
  23. A number of Amul ads have been based on other much-discussed ads. Some samples:
  24. Amul ads on ads

Much of the above Amul advertising trivia is from Amul’s India: Based on 50 years of Amul advertising by daCunha Communications (Rs 299). The book’s available for Rs 179 at HomeShop18, Rs 209 on FlipKart and Rs 237 on Indiatimes Shopping.

The best part of the book is of course the ads and the piece by Sylvester daCunha. The problem with so many people writing, speaking on the same theme is that there tends to be repetitions and there are many in the book. What is surprising though is that of the 17 contributors no two listed the same ad as their favourite. Maybe it is because of the variety or is it on purpose?

Alpana Parida’s (President, DY Works) verbosity was actually unnecessary and they should’ve put in eight pages of more ads instead.

The big let down was the captions accompanying the ads. Amul ads are topicals and usually refer to specific incidents. The caption writer seemed to be clueless for most of the time and the generalisation killed the pun for readers. For example the Suresh Kalmadi ad, has to do more to do with reports of Kalmadi suffering from memory loss than with what the caption read – “Suresh Kalmadi had to spend time in jail for his role in the Commonwealth Games scandal.”

I had personally expected the book to throw more light on the anecdotes of the people involved in creating the ads rather than what celebrities think about them. I wished they added more ads in there. Nevertheless, this book is a recommended buy.

46 years of Amul advertising, 1,432 ads, one 50 million pixel mosaic image (also a movie)!

The book mentions that there have been over 4,000 Amul ads and I have got hold of 1,432 of them (a couple more have been added while I was getting this post ready and haven’t included them). Such a huge cache automatically lends itself to some interesting usage. And here’s what I did with them.

The image below is a mosaic of the Amul moppet and is made up of all the 1,432 individual Amul ads. Some of you might want to do a huge print of this to put up on an empty wall. This 50 megapixel image (9426 x 5303 pixels at 300 dpi) weighs 28.4 MB and can be downloaded from here [ZIP 28.4 MB]. Zoom in (hover over the image, use the controls on the bottom right or simply click).

And as promised there’s a movie too. In a feature length (1 hour 35 minutes and 40 second) glory made up of all the 1,432 images present in the mosaic image above.

I don’t know if these qualify as categories but the mosaic can set the world record for the largest ad made up of individual ads and the video could hold the title for the longest video advertisement. This is Cutting the Chai’s little tribute to this loveable series that also happens longest running outdoor campaign.

Advertising, Bollywood, Books, Fantastic Females, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Ad from 1979: Look, that’s Rekha with a Lakme face

Apart from a few Lakme ads an the Lux ads, that is almost mandatory for any Bollywood actress of note to feature in, I haven’t seen the enigmatic Rekha in many other advertisements. Though I am quite sure, that given her popularity she would’ve appeared in a atleast a few more.

At her peak in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, Rekha was the face of Lakme, then a Tata company, and this print ad by daCunha is from 1979.

Rekha in a 1979 Lakme advertisement

What’s shooting?
Rekha in Lakmé

Sating Glow Liquid Make-Up.
Ultra-Silk Face Powder and Compacts.

Rekha used only imported make-up. The best. Then we gave her Lakmé. ‘Too much!,’ she said. She couldn’t tell the difference. Nor will you. Look, that’s Rekha with a Lakmé face. Find out what Rekha discovered. Find yourself a Lakmé face.

The beauty maker.

I was reminded of this particular Lakme ad by a sultry Rekha (from Utsav (1984)) the cover of Bollywood: A History by Mihir Bose. Bought the book this Sunday from the Daryaganj Sunday Book Market. Though some reviews don’t speak very highly of the book, I don’t mind reading as long as it gives me additional insights to the cinema that is close to my heart.

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Bengalis, Books, Shillong

The Bengalis of Shillong

Excerpt from the book Shillonger Bangali by Shyamaldas Bhattacharyya:

Shillong, ruled by the British for 112 years had a large population of Bengalis till 1972 when the state of Meghalaya was created. The present city was constructed only around one existing village in the vicinity then, Laban, in the 1860s. This city, as known as ‘Scotland of the East’ was the citadel of expanse of the British rule in the North East.

The first Bengali, as recorded, who came to Shillong was the successful trader Golam Haider, who was the supplier to the Raj in Cherrapunji, the district head quarters. he established his ‘Golam Haider and Sons,’ the only departmental store in the centrally located Police Bazar (1878) is also proof of the Bengalis as early settlers in this town.

Thus the author Shyamaldas Bhattacharyya, a former principal of Nongtalang College of Shillong, drives us through the 120 year history of the Bengalis in this unique city. This is a voluminous book (almost 300 crown size pages) written by one who has lived in the deep of the changing socio-economic situation of the Bengalis of this hill state. It’s not a tiring reading because it contains not-so-detailed account of the societal documentation.

Continue reading

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Advertising, Bollywood, Books, Magazines, Media, Print Ads, Sex

Femina Kamasutra Mehndi Cheat Sheet [NSFW]

Suhagraat. The legendary Indian tradition where the newly-weds are left alone in a room for the first time, to do what newly-weds are expected to do. The marriage, according to Bollywood, is in almost all cases consummated on the suhagraat itself.

Found this print advertisement for Femina magazine here. Probably from the early 2000s when Femina ran the “Generation W” campaign across the print media. Wonder which magazine(s) this particular ad appeared in?

Femina Kamasutra positions mehndi design

Femina Generation W

Continue reading

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Books, Photos, Religion



Ganesha, my wife Varsha's favourite god

Ganesha An elephant-headed god, who is one of the most popular deities today, revered by Hindus of all sects. Ganesha is the patron deity of writers, accountants, traders and businessmen, and is worshipped at the start of any new venture. He grants progress, prosperity, wisdom, and the removal of obstacles… Ganesha is venerated by Buddhists and Jains as well, and several Buddhist deities have elephant heads. In the early medieval period, his images occour in Indo-China, Java and elsewhere. Similar elephant-headed deities are known in China, Japan, and other parts of South-east Asia.

– Roshen Dalal. Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. Pg 141-142.

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Books, Comics, Internet, Sex, Websites

Censored in India, Savita Bhabhi goes French

Savita Bhabhi Book Cover - Love in BollywoodShe’s one porn star who has everyone ‘excited’, right from the government babus to the editors in the newsrooms.

Though Savita Bhabhi has been back after the ban via a new domain, the resurrection also seems to have been obstructed. The new website doesn’t seem accessible directly (there’s always the other way around), atleast on the ISPs that I use. Apparently the process of denying access to the new website has already been initiated.

Shunned by her own government, Savita Bhabhi has found succour with the French. “France gives sexual asylum to Savita Bhabhi,” could scream a headline (just couldn’t resist using the term).

It might seem that, like our television channels, I’m blowing things out of proportion. Well, I am.

It’s only that Savita Bhabhi has been published as a comic book (in ink and paper) by Editions Blanche, a French publisher specialising in erotic literature.

Titled Love in Bollywood also Bollywood in Love (depending on the cover you look at) the book was released a month back on October 22, 2009. The 96-page comic book authored by Deshmukh, has been designed by Dexstar and Madman (all pseudonyms).

The book, Bollywood in Love – les Aventures de Savita Bhabhi, (Bollywood in Love – The Adventures of Savita Bhabhi) is also available on Amazon France for €13.25.

All bans aren’t bad, as many Bollywood producers would agree. The Indian government’s restriction Savita Bhabhi has made her India’s most famous porn star ever.

The widespread media coverage and online discussions have generated more following for the cartoon porn star than the ones in flesh and blood – Shakeela, Sunny Leone, Angela Devi, Priya Rai – put together.

Now that she’s been published in other languages too, Savita Bhabhi might find a place along with the Kamasutra and Khajuraho whenever sex and India are mentioned together in the same sentence anywhere in the world.