How the Maharajah Got Its Wings: The Story of Air India’s Iconic Mascot…

One of India’s most recognisable and loved mascots, Air India’s portly Maharajah with folded hands has held a special place in the hearts of its citizens for years.

“We can call him the Maharajah for want of a better description. But his blood isn’t blue. He may look like royalty, but he isn’t royal. He is capable of entertaining the Queen of England and splitting a beer with her butler. He is a man of many parts: lover boy, sumo wrestler, pavement artist, vendor of naughty post cards, Capuchin monk, Arab merchant…”

These are the words of Bobby Kooka, the man who conceived Air India’s Maharajah nearly 72 years ago. One of India’s most recognisable and loved mascots, this portly figure in regal garb has held a special place in the hearts of its citizens for years.

Here’s the fascinating story of Air India’s iconic Maharajah.

A part of Air India’s campaign to distinguish itself from its peers, the jovial and rotund Maharajah first made his appearance on an in-flight memo pad in the mid-1940s. He was conceived by SK (Bobby) Kooka, who was then a Commercial Director with Air India and sketched by Umesh Rao, an artist at J Walter Thompson in Bombay.

Back then, India was known as the “Land of the Maharajas” and Air India was its only international carrier, flying to destinations such as Cairo, Prague, Damascus, Zurich and Istanbul. So Kooka wanted to create an illustration for Air India’s letterhead that would symbolise graciousness and elegant living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SK Kooka with Captain V Vishwanath in May 1948 
It was somewhat along these lines that his creators, Kooka and Rao, gave him a distinctive personality, luxuriant moustache, aquiline nose and the quintessentially Indian turban. Eventually, the regal figure became Air-India’s mascot for its advertising and sales promotion activities.

For the next few years, the Maharajah was ingeniously used by India’s national airline to introduce new flight routes. His funny antics and quirky puns also allowed Air India to promote its services with subtle humour and unmatched panache.

For instance, one of the posters from Air India’s “retro collection” shows the Maharajah as a Russian Kalinka dancer to advertise its flight to Moscow. Another one shows him on a speedboat surfing in Australia with the boat replaced by two mermaids. Yet another one shows him being carried as a prey, hands and feet tied, by two lions in the jungles of Nairobi.

Here are some iconic posters that show the Maharajah in his quirky avatars, looking quite at home in famous locations around the world.

              Photo Source: Air India on Imgur.

   As such, the Maharajah came dressed in various garbs, but his trademark twirly moustache and his roly-poly stature remained — until 2017 when he lost of a bit of his flab and traded his traditional attire for blue jeans, trainers and a low-slung satchel to align himself with the modern times.

Unsurprisingly, the Maharajah has won numerous national and international awards for Air India for originality in advertising and publicity.

Interestingly, at one point in time, the mascot’s regal connotations triggered a controversy with politicians expressing doubts about using such a symbol to represent a nation with socialist aspirations. As a result, Air India did away with the Maharajah in 1989. But there was such a hue and cry from various quarters that the popular mascot had to be brought back.

In fact, during these years, Maharajah stickers and dolls were common in most middle-class Indian homes, even those where air travel was considered a luxury!

 

                                                                       So like all great men, the Maharajah has had his critics. But the millions of travellers who love him far outnumber them. For many of them, the inimitable mascot is a real person, almost like a friend who reaches out with warmth and hospitality, even to the farthest corners of the world.

As Rahul Da Cunha, the ad man behind the equally iconic Amul India campaign, once said,

“The Amul girl and the Air India Maharaja are the most brilliant characters ever created. The Maharaja encapsulates everything Air India should be: Indian luxury, hospitality, services and above all, royalty. It is royalty combined with humility. What can be a more iconic symbol for an Indian carrier?”

Source….SanchariPal

http://www.the better india.com

Natarajan

 

 

 

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When Donald Trump demanded a role in Home Alone 2 in exchange of a shoot in his hotel !!!!!!

In an interview, Matt Damon mentioned how President Trump would only let the crew of the film on his properties if they wrote him a part in it. That’s how he featured in Home

Alone 2: Lost in New York. Donald Trump and Macauley Culkin in a scene from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Back in 1992, Donald Trump played a six-second cameo role in the adventure/comedy movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. And now, Hollywood actor Matt Damon has spilled the truth behind the “apparent” cameo appearance.

Damon revealed the deal that Trump made to the filmmakers in exchange for the use of his Manhattan hotel for the shoot.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 46-year-actor told that President Trump will only let the crew of the film on his properties if they write him a part in the movie.

He said, “The deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part.”

Adding, “[Director] Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman, and the whole crew was in on it.”

“You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot: Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, ‘Hello, Mr. Trump!’ You had to call him by name and then he exits,” noted Damon.

“You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out. But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in,” he explained.

The Downsizing star also revealed that he has never met Trump in person and he clearly isn’t a fan of him.

Damon is currently promoting his new movie Suburbicon at the Venice Film Festival alongside Hollywood actors George Clooney and Julianne Moore.

Source…www.hindustantimes.com

Natarajan

 

 

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை ….” நினைவு பெட்டகம் 2017 “

 

நினைவு பெட்டகம் 2017
————————-
ஆண்டின் ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் ஒரு அனுபவமே
கற்கண்டு போல் இனித்த நாளும் உண்டு
கசப்பு மட்டும் காட்டிய நாளும் உண்டு
இனிப்போ  கசப்போ …கட்டாயம் சொல்லும் அது
ஒரு பாடம் …நாளும் ஒரு பாடம் கற்று நானும்
மாற்றிக்கொண்டேன் என்னை எல்லா நாளையும்
இனிய நாளாக ஏற்க !
இந்த ஆண்டு நினைவு பெட்டகமும்  ஒரு பொக்கிஷமே
எனக்கு … இந்த பெட்டகம் திறக்க தனி ஒரு  கடவு சொல்
வேண்டாம்  …திறந்து படிக்க  ஒரு மடிக் கணிணியும்
வேண்டாம் எனக்கு !
கடவுள் கொடுத்த Memory Power ஒன்று மட்டும்
போதும் எனக்கு இந்த பெட்டகம் திறக்க !
வாழ்வின் ஓவ்வொரு நாளும் ஒரு பொக்கிஷமே
இந்த ஆண்டின் பொக்கிஷ நினைவை நான்
அசை போடும் நேரம் புத்தாண்டு விடியலுக்கும்
ஆசையுடன் காத்திருக்கிறேன்  நான் !
இனி வரும் எல்லா நாளும்  இனிய நாளாக அமைய
வேண்டும் … என் பொக்கிஷப் பெட்டகம்
திறந்து பார்க்க வேண்டும் நான் ஒவ்வொரு
ஆண்டும் இன்று போல் …ஒரு கடவு சொல் ,
மடிக் கணிணி துணை இல்லாமல் !
Natarajan
1st Jan 2018

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை….” என் முதல் கனவு “

 

என் முதல் கனவு
—————
அம்மாவின் கருவறையில் நான் கேட்ட முதல் ஒலி
அம்மாவின் குரலும் பாட்டும் …இதுதான் உன் அம்மா
என்று என் அம்மாவின்  முகத்தை என் மனத்
திரையில் படம் பிடித்துக் காட்டியது
என் முதல்  கனவே ..அதுவே  நான்
பார்த்த முதல் ஒலியும் ஒளியும் !
நான் கண்ட அந்த முதல் கனவு  நனவு ஆனது என்
அம்மாவின் முகம் நான் பார்த்த முதல் நாள் !
வாழ்வில் எத்தனை எத்தனை கனவுகள் !
கனவு அத்தனையும் நனவாகவில்லையே !
அத்தனை ஏன் ?  நேற்று இரவு கண்ட
கனவு என்ன என்று விடிந்தால் புரிவதில்லையே !
என் முதல் கனவு மட்டும் எனக்கு இன்னும்
மறக்க வில்லையே !  ஏன் ?
அது எனக்கு முதல் கனவு மட்டும் அல்ல !
நனவை கனவில் அடையாளம் காட்டிய
இனிய புதுமைக் கனவும் அதுவே !
இன்றும் என்றும் அதுவே எனக்கு
முதல் கனவு ! முடிவே இல்லாத
முதன்மை கனவும் அதுவே !
My Kavithai  in http://www.dinamani.com dated 26th Nov 2017
Natarajan

The Fascinating History of the Iconic Mysore Sandal Soap…

A soap that has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century, Mysore Sandal Soap’s legacy is intricately interwoven with Karnataka’s history and heritage.

There is something beautifully Indian about the fragrance of sandalwood. Sweet, warm, rich and woody, it is a scent that is deeply interwoven with the nation’s history and heritage. This is, perhaps, one of the many reasons why the Mysore Sandal Soap has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century.

Here’s the fascinating story behind India’s most-loved sandal soap.

One hundred and one years ago, in May 1916, Krishna Raja Wodiyar IV (the then Maharaja of Mysore) and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (the then Diwan of Mysore), set up the Government Sandalwood Oil factory at Mysore for sandalwood oil extraction.

The primary goal of the project was to utilise the excess stocks of the fragrant wood that had piled up after World War I halted the export of sandalwood from the kingdom of Mysore (the largest producer of sandalwood in the world at the time).

Two years later, the Maharaja was gifted a rare set of sandalwood oil soaps. This gave him the idea of producing similar soaps for the masses which he immediately shared with his bright Diwan. In total agreement about the need for industrial development in the state, the enterprising duo (who would go on to plan many projects whose benefits are still being reaped) immediately got to work.

A stickler for perfection, Visveswaraya wanted to produce a good quality soap that would also be affordable for the public. He invited technical experts from Bombay (now Mumbai) and made arrangements for soap making experiments on the premises of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Interestingly, the IISc had been set up in 1911 due to the efforts of another legendary Diwan of Mysore, K Sheshadri Iyer!

From the talent involved in the research happening at IISc, he identified a bright, young industrial chemist called Sosale Garalapuri Shastry and sent him to England to fine tune his knowledge about making soap. Affectionately remembered by many as Soap Shastry, the hardworking scientist would go on to play a key role in making Visveswaraya’s dream a reality.

After acquiring the required knowledge, Shastry quickly returned to Mysore where the Maharaja and his Diwan were waiting anxiously. He standardized the procedure of incorporating pure sandalwood oil in soaps after which the government soap factory was established near K R Circle in Bengaluru.

The same year, another oil extraction factory was set up at Mysore to ensure a steady supply of sandalwood oil to the soap making unit. In 1944, another unit was established in Shivamoga. Once the soap hit the market, it quickly became popular with the public, not just within the princely state but across the country.

However, Shastry was not done yet. He also created a perfume from distilled sandalwood oil. Next, he decided to give the Mysore Sandal Soap a unique shape and innovative packaging. In those days, soaps would normally be rectangular in shape and packed in thin, glossy and brightly coloured paper. To help it stand out from the rest, he gave the soap an oval shape before working on a culturally significant packaging.

Cognizant of the Indian love of jewels, Shastry designed a rectangular box resembling a jewellery case— with floral prints and carefully chosen colours. At the centre of the design was the unusual logo he chose for the company, Sharaba (a mythical creature from local folklore with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion. A symbol of courage as well as wisdom, the scientist wanted it to symbolise the state’s rich heritage.

The message ‘Srigandhada Tavarininda’ (that translates to ‘from the maternal home of sandalwood’) was printed on every Mysore Sandal Soapbox. The aromatic soap itself was wrapped in delicate white paper, similar to the ones used by jewellery shops to pack jewels.

This was followed by a systematic and well-planned advertising campaign with cities across the country carrying vibrant signboards in neon colours. Pictures of the soapbox were noticeable everywhere, from tram tickets to matchboxes. Even a camel procession was held to advertise the soap in Karachi!

The out-of-the-box campaign led to rich results. The soap’s demand in India and abroad touched new heights, with even royal families of foreign nations ordering it for themselves. Another important turning point for the company was when, in 1980, it was merged with the oil extraction units (in Mysuru and Shivamoga) and incorporated into one company called Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Limited (KSDL).

However, in the early 1990s, the state-run firm did face a rough patch due to multinational competition, declining demand and lack of coordination between sales and production departments. As losses started rising, it was given a rehabilitation package by BIFR (Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction) and KSDL grabbed the lifeline with both hands.

The company streamlined its way of functioning and soon it had started showing profits again. Thanks to rising profits year after year, it had soon wiped out all its losses and repaid its entire debt to BIFR by 2003. The company also successfully diversified into other soaps, incense sticks, essential oils, hand washes, talcum powder etc.

Nonetheless, the Mysore Sandal Soap remains the company’s flagship product, the only soap in the world made from 100% pure sandalwood oil (along with other natural essential oils such as patchouli, vetiver, orange, geranium and palm rose). Due to tremendous brand recall and loyalty associated with the soap, it also bags a prized position on the shopping lists of visiting NRIs.

In 2006, the iconic was awarded a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag — that means anyone can make and market a sandalwood soap but only KSDL can rightfully claim it to be a ‘Mysore Sandalwood’ soap.

Thanks to this near-monopolistic presence in the market for sandalwood bathing soaps, KSDL has also become one of Karnataka’s few public sector enterprises that turns consistent profits. In fact, the company registered its highest gross sales turnover (of ₹476 crore) in 2015-16.

Such is the legacy of sandalwood and this earthy, oval-shaped soap in the state that even Karnataka’s thriving film industry calls itself Sandalwood!

Today, there are a multitude of branded soaps in the market but Mysore Sandal Soap continues to hold a distinctive place among all of them. Its production figures continue to rise, even as the availability of sandalwood is on the decline.

To counter this, KSDL has been running a ‘Grow More Sandalwood’ programme for farmers, that provides affordable sandalwood saplings along with a buy-back guarantee.Working in partnership with the forest department, it is also working to ensure that for every sandalwood removed for extraction, a sandalwood sapling is planted to replace it.

The story of Mysore Sandal Soap and its enduring appeal is an inspiration not just for Indian PSUs but for the entire FMCG sector. Here’s hoping that its future is aromatic as its history!

Source….www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை…. ” புதிய ஓட்டம் ” …

 

புதிய ஓட்டம்
—————
ஓட்டமாய் ஓடுது வாழ்க்கை …தினம் தினம்
ஒரு ஓட்டம் …புதிய ஓட்டம் !
என் தாத்தாவின் கை பிடித்து ஓடிய நான்
இன்று என் பேரனின் பின்னால் ஓடுகிறேன் !
பேரன் குரல் கேட்டு ஓடுகிறேன்  அவன்
சொல்லும்படி  ஆடுகிறேன் … இது புதிய
ஆட்டம்  நான் ஓடும் ஓட்டத்தில் !
இந்த புதிய ஓட்டமும் ஆட்டமும் சலிக்கவில்லையே
எனக்கு…தினம் தினம் நான் புதியதாய் பிறப்பதால் !
புதிய ரத்தம் என்னுள்ளே புது வேகத்தில் சுரப்பதால் !
புதிய ஓட்டம் ஓடும் நான் ஒரு வட்டத்துக்குள் சுற்றவில்லை
குட்டிப் பயல்  என்னை கட்டிப் போடவும் இல்லை !
நான் ஓடிக் கொண்டே இருப்பேன் அவன் பின்னால் !
என் ஓட்டம்  நிற்காது அந்த சுட்டிப் பயல் ஒரு
சிகரத்தை எட்டி தொடும் வரையில் !
My Tamil Kavithai in http://www.dinamani.com  dated 1st Oct 2017
Natarajan