Friday, November 26, 2010

Brand Busting

A friend was invited to the engagement party of a rising star in Bollywood. She came back after the celebrations, raving about the arrangements and the food. There was only one rider. She couldn’t click any pictures. Why? Because the actor and his family didn’t want any snaps that had him smoking. I found the whole thing rather absurd until she explained how all the film stars in Mumbai were positioning themselves as’ Brands.’ And the actor in question was clear he wanted to be projected as squeaky clean and politically correct in all respects. Any evidence of him engaging even in a minor vice was not something the public at large was privy to.

The X-Tapes are like the snaps my friend would have liked to click. If any of the public personalities involved in the 2 G spectrum mess had known the income tax department was taping the conversations of a certain Ms. Radia when they were on line with her, it goes without saying the sacrilege would have never been permitted, let alone find its way in the public domain. But some intrepid soul refused to play by the party rules and the damage has been to some of the most enduring brands of rising India.

We know now that our Prime Minister is not the honest and upright leader he was ‘branded’ as but a wimp. Just yesterday I read an article on him that described him as ‘effete.’ The tapes also tell us that the chairman of the leading corporate house in India looks down on anything it the black tie affair or the dark complexioned Raja. He and his PR executive are caught giggling about Raja being able to blush despite the handicap his complexion poses.

I personally found that section very useful as it proved to me once and for all why that dubious product “Fair and Lovely” sells like hot cakes in our country. All the “Kaalas” in this country including me, would like to blush in certain situations and we want our blushes to be noticed. So the plan is we use a fairness cream. That should also improve our employment prospects considering such prominent corporate personalities like their ministers ‘fair’ and square.

We also know the dapper long distance runner Anil Ambani has inherited none of the business acumen of his legendary father and foolishly gone and lost all his wealth in the stock market. From one of the richest businessmen in the world, he has turned into a “Kadka.” When another friend heard me joking about this he chided “Even in his Kadka state, he has more money than you can ever dream of.” I retorted it didn’t matter as he was “Kadka” by his own standards.

Barkha Dutt is no longer the feisty journalist we knew her to be. She is found famously asking Radia “Tell me, what should I tell them now?” From the heights of Kargil to the depths of being an errand girl, somehow the fall of Ms. Dutt is rather Greek tragedy like. I am sure whenever she walks into a party of late, all the guests look at her from the corner of their eyes and snigger. As for the suave Mr. Sanghvi, the same media peers who envied him for getting invited to the best of hotels and spas in the world are now calling him a “Steno” and “PA” to Radia.

Niira Radia herself is no power woman and a feminist icon as I imagined her to be. Initially, when the scandal broke out, I was quite impressed by this woman who was stringing the most powerful men in India like puppets. But now we learn, she joined the ‘Big Boys’ club by being ‘very close’ to the BJP politician from Karnataka- Anant Kumar. So it is the same old story.

Karnataka politician reminds me of our own Yedurappa, and how despite impeccable credentials he did not figure in the tapes. But the aftermath certainly featured him prominently. His brand was the only one not to get busted.

He was and remains the clown beyond compare!

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