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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pratibha Patil, the Precedent

Shekhar Gupta (as always) puts forward an articulated argument why Pratibha Patil is not the right choice for President in his aptly titled column in The Indian Express - National Interest.


The Congress’ guilt is not so much about who they chose for the job as it is about how it trivialised that job, to begin with...

You have to first decide what the presidency is all about. Is it about political experience? Is it about respect? Or, put another way, is it merely a ceremonial office, or is it an important political office? It cannot be both and that is one more reason the Congress sounds so unconvincing — and unconvinced...

The way the party and its allies - at least those that it consulted - went about selecting the next president, it seemed it was the least important sinecure in the Republic. Now you can’t defend yourselves saying, don’t take notice of any adverse revelations about her, after all, come July 25, and she will represent the glory of the Republic...

And, how’s this for irony? This is the same party that was so exquisitely careful in choosing its prime minister.

More on Pratibha from The Express:

* 'Tai may become President, what about us who have been cheated?' (June 30, 2007)

* Probe how bank was sold dirt cheap, file criminal case: order came in April (June 30, 2007)

* 'Govt seriously considering compulsory sterilisation' (June 30, 2007)

* Her latest gem: 'Mughals respected women so much that purdah came in' (June 29, 2007)

* After women & veil, it's now dead man talking for Patil (June 27, 2007)

* Patil was aware of her bank mess, top defaulters her kin (June 27, 2007)

* BJP says country faces prospect of 'tainted President' (June 27, 2007)

* Pratibha bank waived loans for kin before RBI shut it down (June 25, 2007)

* Forcible sterilisation of those with hereditary disease: Pratibha Patil's 'Emergency' idea (June 24, 2007)

* Clarify on Rajani's allegations, says BJP (June 24, 2007)

* Congman's wife drags Pratibha name into allegations, NDA distances itself (June 23, 2007)

* Sugar mill started by Patil sealed for loan default (June 23, 2007)

* Patil’s purdah remark courts controversy (June 19, 2007)

* Pratibha who? (June 17, 2007)

* CV of first would-be ‘woman President’: backed Indira, backed by Rajiv (June 15, 2007)

Previously on Cutting the Chai:

* Pratibha Patil: Who, Why?

[Image courtesy: The Indian Express]

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Hunt on for India's Mr Condom

Dwaipayan sent me this:

Legendary Thai senator Mechai Viravaidya, who single-handedly crafted Thailand’s success story against AIDS, has inspired India to find its very own condom man. India’s National Aids Control Programme chief K Sujatha Rao, who just returned from Thailand after studying the phenomenon called "Mechai", has decided to find a man who will be India’s desi "Mr Condom".

with a comment that they might be looking for me.

The idea of India's on Mr Condom is a welcome one, but given the diversity and the size of our country we might need a number of them. Getting an Indian politician to wholeheartedly endorse contraceptives is a little difficult (though Narendra Modi had his photos on some of them). Recently Madhya Pradesh PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya raised a hue and cry over Crezendo, a condom with a vibrating ring, marketed by the government owned Hindustan Latex Limited. While the roads of Madhya Pradesh remain a back breaker, the Minister is unnecessarily concerned about people breaking their beds.

"Condoms are used for family planning. When they are used for pleasure with devices like vibrators, they become sex toys," said the sex-toy wary Minister. But my argument is that, if added pleasure encourages people to use condoms, it should be welcomed rather than grimacing at the idea of someone else's orgasmic ecstasy.

Here where a change of government leads to the change of focus of the campaigns, a Mr Condom will find the going tough. A previous government preferred abstinence over the rubber. Good idea, but it is easier to wear a hat than keep natural instincts at bay.

Though many female celebrities endorse female contraceptives, there is a sort of stigma associated with the male condoms. It would be difficult to find someone whom the general masses would heed to lead such a campaign. I think it is where our cinema can come in. Since we have moved ahead from flowers, birds and fireplaces symbolising sexual activity on celluloid, we might just show our actors going for a rubber (or actresses asking their partners to wear one) before doing it. Usually films make fun of condoms, especially the often embarrassing experience of purchasing a pack. Fun is fun, but if a little responsibility is added it would get so much better.

Meanwhile let us think of potential candidates to don the rubber hat.

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Pratibha Patil: Who, Why?

You can call me politically ignorant, but the headline of this post was my first reaction on reading the 'Breaking News' scrolling on my office PC. The second thought that came to my mind, before the news came in about her real status, was that she might be Shivraj Patil's wife. It seems I wasn't the only one to think so:

Pratibha Patil was such a dark horse that a DMK leader even asked innocently whether she was the wife of Shivraj Patil when he was first told her name.

Outlook's cover story reads "68% Feel Pratibha Patil is the Right Choice to be the President." What a revelation! I have played with statistics for a few years of my life and know how to make them tell your angle of the story. The poll conducted by Cfore on behalf of Outlook interviewed 1,238 women, but forgot to ask their respondents a very crucial question - Did they know who Pratibha Patil was before her name cropped up? In case they did, I would like to know of the results.

Another question should've been - Who would you opt for, Kalam or Pratibha? The cover story will have been a lot different then, but then it wouldn't augur well with the Congress' point of view.

A woman President is a welcome change. But I (and I believe the majority of the nation, irrespective of 'opinion polls') need to be convinced more about a certain Pratibha Patil. After all, after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam our expectations have risen.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nataraj Phir Champion

I'm sure most of my generation who had watched the TVC version of this Nataraj Pencils print ad would still recall it.

Nataraj Pencils

Here's another vintage Nataraj Pencils TVC:

To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:00:19 FLV 493 KB]

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Isspecial Cutting Chai - May 2007

One of the high points of our post-school discussions (besides cricket and girls) was about which song was lifted from where. That was the era when Anu Malik reigned supreme. Gulshan Kumar was still alive and Nadeem Akhtar Saifi was not an absconder. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was yet to arrive in India and his music 'inspired' 'top-notch' music directors. And Humse Hain Muqabla audio cassette had to advertise itself as the original Muqabla, as the lifted numbers had already become big hits before the dubbed-version of the original could reach the Hindi-listening parts of the country. Shillong being a city deeply rooted in western music, but with a taste for the Indian, made it easier to find the original sources.

ItwoFS brings back those days of heated discussions over cups of cutting chai (and a few puffs of Wills Filter). ItwoFS or Inspirations in Indian Film Songs is an encyclopedia of what the name suggests. Karthik Srinivasan, the man behind the site, does a good job of bringing the plagiarists to book (virtually) with evidences to boot.

He also has a 100-word review blog called Milliblog! where "you get straight-to-the-point opinions!"

For its efforts towards a less inspired and more inspiring Indian film music, the fourteenth Isspecial Cutting Chai (May 2007) is offered to Karthik Srinivasan of ItwoFS.

It is not only Indian films and music which is inspired, our television shows are no better (most aren't any good anyway).

Previous sipper Ang Anino ni Abaniko (April 2007)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eight truths and an untruth

A tag came my way from the girl from South of the Border, West of the Sun. It asks me to say nine things about me, one of which is a lie. Though it would've been a lot easier the other way around. In the past I received similar tags twice, the first required me to note 20 things about me and the second, only eight. This time I can't just copy-paste from the previous, as the one lie that I have to fit in would become obvious. So here's my fresh list:

1. I'm a netoholic
2. I had my first girlfriend (or whatever that meant then) in kindergarten
3. I frequently visit online chat rooms for some sultry talk
4. My family wanted me to be a civil servant and I cherished filmmaking dreams
5. I didn't cry on my first day to school
6. I dislike Himesh Reshmmaya, Emran Hashmi, Upen Patel and their ilk
7. I have a penchant for collecting movies
8. Gizmos and gadgets keep me busy and I love to take them apart (that I'm occasionally unable to put them back together is a different story)
9. I hate getting wet in the rain (being born and brought up in cloud-infested Meghalaya)

Picking up the lie isn't that tough. A surprise prize awaits the one who gets it right. In case there is more than one winner, I'll draw lots. And the winner will also get automatically tagged with this tag.

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The Big B Makes His Debut

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas' Saat Hindustani might not be the most watched of Indian films, but it marked the beginning of the career of Amitabh Bachchan, arguably the most watched Indian film actor. In this 1969 film Amitabh played the role of Anwar Ali, an Urdu aficionado from Ranchi, Bihar, who along with five different men from across India joined hands with Maria from Goa against the Portuguese rule in Maria's home state.

Here's the scene where the Superstar of the Millennium (thanks to fan-atic Indians voting for their favourite star. Bachchan said that he would've voted for Marlon Brando) make his first appearance on the silver screen.

Download video [00:03:02 FLV 3.01 MB 320x240]
To share/embed this video click here

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Song for Shillong

The reasons for us to watch Jag Mundhra's films during school and early college years were obvious. Now when his latest venture Provoked released, I didn't have the urge to spend money and time to watch his work featuring Aishwariya Rai (now Bachchan). Since it was very unlikely for Aishwarya to be doing a Helen Brodie [NSFW].

Last night, on the way back from work I heard the OST of the film for the first time and one song touched my heart. Again for obvious reasons. The song was titled 'Shillong.' Sung by Karen David, who traces a part of her ancestry to the beautiful hill city. Karen also has plays a role in the movie.

Most Shillongites would relate to the song.

Here's a short sample from the song:

[MP3 00:00:59]

To listen to the complete version go to Karen's MySpace space.

Read an earlier post on the music of Shillong

Click here for the complete post...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (with Subtitles and Credits)

One of the more popular posts on this blog is Euphony from the Yesteryears, where I had compiled a list of songs (with download links) from Doordarshan programmes that we had grown up with. The favourite, of course is Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - the brilliantly crafted song (and video) on national integration.

Though this video is now available at many places on the internet, I tried a little value addition.

First, I attempted to find the names of the people behind the project. Though there is not much information available, and I'm too lazy to go out and try to find out, I put in whatever I could find (but didn't verify it).

Second, I put in subtitles (in Roman script) so that you can sing along (though most know it by heart). Just a little frill, unlike the Same Language Subtitling [PDF] in Chitrahaar, which has many more benefits.

To share/embed this video click here
Download audio [00:05:33 MP3 2.54 MB 64kbps 44 KHz Stereo]

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara
(Video on national integration)

Year: 1988

Music: Louis Banks
Lyrics: Piyush Pandey
Director: Suresh Mullick
Camera: Vikram Bangera
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather India
Producer: Lok Sewa Sanchar Parishad

Languages used: (In order of appearance) Hindi, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Bangla, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati and Marathi (the languages present then in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, which was later amended to include more languages. The present count is 22).

People featured (a partial list): Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Kamal Hasan, Jeetendra, Waheeda Rehman, Hema Malini, Tanuja, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, Deepa Sahi, Om Puri, Deena Pathak (Actors); Mallika Sarabhai (Dancer); Mario Miranda (Cartoonist); Mrinal Sen (Filmmaker); Bhimsen Joshi, M Balamuralikrishna, Lata Mangeshkar (Singers); Narendra Hirwani, S Venkataraghavan, Prakash Padukone, Arun Lal, PK Banerjee, Syed Kirmani (Sportsmen)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Condoms for Desi Porn Watchers

A year after a programme was launched to sell condoms at theatres showing porn films in India, health officials say the response has been overwhelming.
[From BBC News]

And this is happening in Gujarat, where the Chief Minister Narendra Modi was himself portrayed on contraceptive packs.

The Andhra Pradesh State Aids Control Society also had announced plans to deliver a condom-a-day (in strawberry-coloured packaging) with the morning paper.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Day in the Life of The Times of India - 20 Years Back

On my usual ad hunting endeavour I happened to discover this 20-year-old piece by Mohan Sivanand (accompanied by RK Laxman's illustrations). It gives us a peek into the world of newspapers when computers had made their initial impression and the internet and Google were still many years away.

Reproduced from Reader's Digest - February 1987

From this l48-year-old newspaper's six-storeyed Bombay headquarters is produced what is probably India's most influential daily. Here is a composite account of...

A Day in the Life of The Times of India

By Mohan Sivanand

At 8AM, the third-floor editorial hall, the heart of the newspaper, is deserted. The only thing moving in the huge, cluttered room, a little bigger than a tennis court, is paper spewing out intermittently from seven teleprinters caged in a corner. At this early hour, most of the news reports are from abroad: there's one from Ankara on a visit to India by Turkish premier Turgut Ozal; another from Chicago about Boris Becker thrashing I van Lendl in straight sets.

Meanwhile, having breakfast at his suburban flat 20 kilometres away, chief reporter Allwyn Fernandes reads the morning's Times. He's struck by a brief front-page report: the previous night in Goa, Bombay policemen. arrested Charles Sobhraj, who had escaped from Delhi's Tihar Jail two weeks earlier after drugging the guards. Fernandes immediately phones city police commissioner DS Soman and learns that Sobhraj will be brought by car to Bombay around noon, en route to Delhi. This will be the day's biggest. story, and Fernandes calls reporters Oswald Pereira and RS Venkatesh at their homes to tell them that they three will cover it. Then he rings up staff photographer PM Shirodkar and assigns him to the city police headquarters.

Meanwhile, in the newspaper's press-room, workmen insert bars of lead into lino-typesetting machines. After being heated for an hour, the molten lead will be cast into typefaces for three of the newspaper's 24 pages. Until two years ago, the entire newspaper was typeset by this process, but now the Times is switching to computerized photo-typesetting, which is 10 times faster.

Keeping Track. At 9am, cartoonist RK Laxman, 62, as always in a dazzling white shirt and dark trousers, enters his cabin. He glances through. the morning papers. "No damned news," he mutters. "Nothing for a cartoon!" The first of the paper's 17 Bombay-based reporters to arrive is RS Venkatesh. Apart from gathering material on Sobhraj, his job today is to keep track of accidents, crimes, fires and other routine news. He first rings up the Customs Department and is told that two truckloads of contraband textiles and video cassettes were seized on the city's outskirts during the night. Then an officer at the coroner's court teJls .him about a young woman who fell out of a ninth-floor flat. "Suicide?" Venkatesh asks." An accident," replies the officer. Venkatesh quickly types out short reports of both incidents.

Downstairs, on the ground floor, at the head of a queue facing the classified advertisements counters, is a. young mechanical engineer, Vinod Nayak. A month ago, Nayak advertised for a job in the Times. Today, he looks thrilled as he's handed 21 replies.

All ads are scrutinized by the staff, but, occasionally, problems crop up. Two years ago, a "Births" announcement, which named the newborn's grandfather, led to an angry old man visiting the office. "None of my sons has had a baby," he insisted. An enquiry revealed the man had disowned his son for marrying against his wishes.

At this time of the morning, the pace at the news desk, where all reports are processed before being set in type, is easy. Chief subeditor ND Tilak sits at the head of a T-shaped desk, handing out reports to the four sub-editors arranged around him. sub-editing doesn't have the glamour of reporting, but it is a crucial part of a newspaper's operations. Subeditors are the final "packagers" of the news-they decide how long each report should be, where in the letters, long analytical articles newspaper it should appear, under on important issues of the day, what headline it should run. The paper's present editor, Girilal Jain joined as a "sub" in 1950,

Revealing its Soul. Just after 10, seven senior journalists meet over tea in editor Jain's room. Since Jain, who spends every alternate fortnight in his New Delhi office, is away, resident editor KC Khanna presides over the discussions. They start with the Sobhraj arrest - Fernandes describes how he will cover it, while Khanna decides to write an editorial commending the Bombay police. They go on to discuss Punjab and Pakistan politics. Assistant editor Achin Vanaik, who specializes in foreign affairs, talks about an editorial he plans on three Japanese managers who recently resigned from their firms to join western companies. "Things seem to be changing in Japan," Vanaik says. "Executives no longer stay for ever in one firm."

Men like Vanaik who write the paper's editorials are, like subeditors, largely desk-bound. Moreover, they are concerned with only one page in the newspaper-the editorial page. But it's on this page that the newspaper reveals its soul; it's here that its likes and dislikes, its prejudices and its enthusiasms are offered to its readers. On the editorial page, too, appear readers' letters, long analytical articles on important issues of the day, and a short humorous article popularly called the 'Middle'.

Once the meeting gets over at 10.45, Fernandes returns to his desk and begins reading news clippings of Sobhraj sent from the reference department on the fourth floor, where 18 librarians maintain photos, microfilms and files on more than 6,000 subjects.

Around 11 am, reporters begin strolling in. Their assignments are indicated in a big ledger on Fernandes's desk. Today, Debashish Munshi has civic affairs and is scheduled to attend a city corporator's dinner at 7.JOpm. Pushpa Iyengar has to cover a State Women's Council conference.

Venkatesh and Oswald Pereira will cover Sobhraj with Fernandes. While most beats are rotated, some like state politics are reported by specialists. Business and sports have their own separate departments.

At 11.30am, in the advertising department, now crowded with briefcase-toting visitors, ad manager R Sundar, who is dictating a telex-message, looks worried. Material for a Rs 21,000 textile ad, booked weeks ago, has not arrived from Delhi.

Just then, a man who says he wants to place an advertisement in the next day's Times, interrupts Sundar. Sorry, Sundar tells him, all display ads must be booked at least three days in advance. "It's for a very sick person looking for a kidney donor," the man pleads. Sundar demands a medical certificate. "There are many rackets involving kidney donors," he explains. Luckily, the man has one.

Advertising fills some 65 per cent of the newspaper's space. That's the secret behind a newspaper's economics: every day the Bombay edition earns Rs 6 lakhs from advertising and only about Rs 2 lakhs from readers.

Clattering of Teleprinters. All matter-whether advertisements or news-is checked by skilled proof-readers. The print is sometimes so tiny that chief reader Nicholas Coutinho, 52, uses a magnifying glass. In his 32 years with the Times, Coutinho has caught many an editorial slip-once a report from the north-east repeatedly referred to "Mizo gorillas."

By 1 pm, press workers join journalists and other Times employees in the crowded sixth.:floor canteen. The food is plain-rice, curry and roti-but subsidized and at just 50 paise, it's perhaps the cheapest trayful in this busy part of Bombay.

After lunch, five more subeditors arrive. The teleprinters are' really clattering away now. Reports from Times correspondents in 200 towns and cities in India and three foreign capitals-New York, London and Islamabad-come by telex, telegrams, even by post. At this hour, in Madras, special correspondent S. Dharmarajan is following a political crisis-Tamilnadu's labour minister has suddenly been stripped of his portfolio. Dharmarajan is at the minister's residence, where a large crowd has gathered.

Not all stories originate with the newsgathering staff. Two years ago, one reader complained to chief reporter Fernandes about a Rs 3,98'8 telephone bill that she'd received. There had obviously been a mistake and when she went to the telephone office to complain, she met five other people with the same problem. They soon discovered that they were being billed for some unknown person's foreign trunk calls. Despite clear evidence of wrong-doing, telephone officials insisted that all six pay up. But a few days later, after a report appeared on the Times' front page, the excess bills were withdrawn.

Front-Page News. At 3pm, Fernandes, Pereira, Venkatesh and photographer Shirodkar are at a press conference where senior police officers describe Sobhraj's arrest. Sobhraj hasn't yet arrived, and Fernandes is anxious. Then, hearing rumours that he may be brought in by air, Fernandes rushes another photographer, Michael Rodriguesl to the airport.

Meanwhile, civic affairs reporter Debashish Munshi gets a tip-off about a municipal order halting construction of a private Rs 400crore thermal power unit. He checks with an official who refuses to comment. Munshi, now convinced it's true, meets the concerned ward officer and 'learns that the unit encroached upon an area where construction was prohibited. Munshi hurries to civic engineers and the company's officials for details.

At 3.50pm, journalists at police headquarters finally meet Sobhraj's captors. But only Doordarshan cameramen are allowed to photograph Sobhraj. PM Shimdkar, the Times photographer, protests vigorously, but police officials say that an official photograph of Sobhraj will be distributed to the press shortly.

Cartoonist RK Laxman, meanwhile, chasing his 4.30pm deadline, is' giving final touches to two drawings. "I start every morning certain I won't get an idea," says Laxman, "but I've managed at least one every day for the last 40 years."

Just before 5pm, Fernandes, Venkatesh and Pereira, their notebooks full, return to the office and begin typing out their reports. Meanwhile, Debashish Munshi, still chasing officials for his thermal unit story, decides to skip the dinner meeting he's been assigned.

By. 6.40pm, Fernandes and the others finish their Sobhraj reports-the package will fill half the next day's front page. Venkatesh takes a taxi back to police headquarters for the photo.

At 7pm, five night-shift subeditors report to the joint news editor, ER Ram Kumar, now busy planning page lay-outs. The teleprinters are now clattering at full speed. Canteen boys run in and out with steaming glasses of tea.

Ram Kumar gives sub-editor Lakshmi lyer' a long teleprinter message from Madras correspondent Dharmarajan. "Front page," he tells her. Lakshmi lyer, 24, an economics graduate from Cuttack, who joined the Times as a trainee, has spent three years with the paper. During her training, Lakshmi worked both as a reporter and a magazine sub-editor. Many Times journalists started like her. Chief reporter Fernandes was a trainee in 1970, Venkatesh in 1985.

"Rush, Rush." At 8.30, Munshi finishes typing his report on the thermal unit, and Fernandes requests the news desk to run it on the front page. Ram Kumar agrees, and makes space for it by deleting four paragraphs from the Madras report. In the Times, as in most papers, strong local reports get priority.

Just then photographer Shirodkar arrives with 20 pictures of the policemen who arrested Sobhraj. Ram Kumar chooses two. But Sobhraj's photo hasn't yet come.

Near by on the sports desk, Satyajit Chattopadyay, a plump but agile 26-year-old sub-editor, has a problem. Because of a delay in transmission, a report by the Times sports correspondent ML Kaul on an India-Australia hockey match in Karachi has not yet arrived. Chattopadyay has a UNI report of the match but would prefer to run the Times' version rather than a news agency's. Ram Kumar asks Chattopadyay if the result should be announced on the front page. "No," is the glum reply. "We lost 3-0." Ram Kumar smiles, then marks off a small area for the result on page one.

At 10.05 Venkatesh arrives, panting, with the Sobhraj photo. "Rush, rush," says Fernandes. Venkatesh hands the photo to Ram Kumar who quickly measures it and sends it upstairs for processing.

By 11.30pm, 16 pages for the next day's paper are ready, and the news and ads are in place. Lakshmi Iyer and the other night sub-editors are in the page make-up room checking each story for the last time. As each page is okayed, workmen take it away to make impressions- "plates" -that are pinned to the rollers of the three huge rotary presses on the ground floor.

The only two journalists left now in the editorial hall are Chattopadyay, still hoping to get his Karachi report and the night reporter, S Balakrishnan, who phones the police and the fire brigade every half-hour. There's nothing interesting from either of them tonight. Night reporting is often quiet, but it has its humorous moments. Last year, on Ramzan Id night, Balakrishnan made a routine call to the police. "Anything happening?" he asked.
"Absolutely nothing," said the inspector on duty. "Not even a bank hold-up?" Balakrishnan teased. Replied the cop. tersely: "Today was a bank holiday."

Whistle Stop. At 12.35pm, the presses start rolling, and in minutes reach top speed - 40,000 copies an hour. The noise is deafening. Sixty thousand copies of the early edition, for faraway cities, are printed first. The other 250,000 copies make the all-important city edition. The presses print, cut and fold each copy, then conveyor. belts take them to the large despatch room, where 70 workmen bundle them, mark their destinations, and load them into trucks:

At 12.40, Satyajit Chattopadyay finally gets his Karachi report, the day's last report, and runs to the composing room with it. To accommodate it a new plate is made. Such changes are routine, but what senior Times employees, like its 49-year-old assistant rotary superintendent DK Rao, can never forget is the early hours of January 11, 1966, when at 2am teleprinters flashed the news that Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had died at Tashkent, USSR.

Thousands of copies had been printed by then but Rao, then a young foreman, stopped the presses and waited for the reports and obituary to be typeset and the front page re-made. The next morning many readers got their Times late, but the big news was there.

With the early edition all printed, at 1.25am, rotary foreman Shirish Pai places two fingers in his mouth and whistles through the din. The presses grind to a halt. Workmen change .the plates. Three minutes later Pai hands me the first copy of the city edition.

Scanned images of the pages (click for a larger view):

Page 1Page 2

Page 3Page 4
Page 5Page 6
Page 7

© 1987 RDI Print & Publishing Private Ltd.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Indian Cigarette Ads from 1800s to 2000s

The song that is on the tip of the tongue of every Hindi-film-loving Indian smoker is getting a paint job. Dev Anand starrer Hum Dono (1961) will be soon released in colour (a la Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur). Mohammad Rafi's colourful rendition of the song penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by Jaidev will have Dev Anand puffing Hindi cinema's most famous cigarette in a watercolour-like enviromnent.

Download a midi version of the song [zip | mid 00:01:52 3 KB]

Though not with an intention to celebrate the much admonished hard-to-break habit of smoking, I've put together collection of cigarette advertisements in India right from the late 18th century to the early 21st century just before advertising for tobacco products was prohibited by the promulgation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. [pdf]

Lest I am accused of violating the spirit of the act, here are a few anti-smoking messages (they usually quite creative) as a deterring-prelude.

[Click on the images for a larger view]

Smoking kills (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

The smoke grave (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

Believe it or not, he actually smokes 20 different brands. Passive smoking, deadlier than you think (WHO and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

Between the two of them, they smoke fifteen cigarettes a day. Passive smoking, deadlier than you think (WHO and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

The irony is she doesn't know she smokes. Passive smoking, deadlier than you think (WHO and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

One puff and a slap of fine of Rs 200
Under Sec. 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 smoking in railway premises including trains, stations, waiting halls and offices is prohibited.
South Eastern Railway
Striving for a tobacco free environment

Smokers are cockroaches and cigarettes roach exterminator (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

Smoking reduces weight. One lung at a time (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

O&M's brilliant take on one of the world's most popular campaigns, that of the Marlboro Man and his horse. The 'Second hand smoke kills' campaign went on to win numerous awards (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

Another gem from the O&M stable. Succinct and sure. This won the Gold Lion in the 'Outdoor Public Health and Safety' category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2003 (Cancer Patients Aid Association)

Cigarette advertising in India from the late 1800s to the early 2000s

(This collection does not necessarily reflect the best in India's tobacco advertising. It is an exercise of convenience rather than comprehensiveness)

An early Indian tobacco advertisement, probably dating back to the late 18th century. The copy makes an interesting read (Anbumani Ramadoss would strongly disagree):

Support the Indian industry by smoking guaranteed Indian made Nizam, Vazeer & Gold Tipped Nizam.
Packed in packets of 10 each.
Made in India! By Indians! For Indians!
Ask your tobacconist for
Nizam, Vazeer & G.T. Nizam cigarettes
Manufactured in Bombay by John Petrino & Co.

An ad for cigarettes for women from the 1920s. The copy reads:
On every lip "Maspero" Specials & Felucca. The same high quality at Rs 3/12 per tin of 50. Sold by all tobacconists. A Maspero tip.

An ad from the 1930s. The text says:

Pradhan Specials Cigarettes
Made from Virginia Tobacco Planted in India
Indian Capital Management
Better than any Imported Cigarette for its price
Sole Agents - Chopra & Co., Chandni Chowk, Delhi
Local stockists: Shahabuddin Md. Ibrahim, Fatepuri
Local stockists: Maharaja Hotel, Delhi

One of the most popular cigarette brands in India - Wills Navy Cut's advertising campaigns has the highest recall value. Their 'Made for each other' campaign spanned generations of cigarette smokers. Here's an early Wills ad, when it was called 'Wills Filter' and old timers still do, some say 'Filter Wills.' From the mid or late 1960s.

The copy reads:
Made for each other
Like Wills Filter
Filter and tobacco perfectly matched. Taste that truly satisfies - time after time. Millions of smokers wouldn't have it any other way.
Wills Filter. Once you've tried it - you stay with it.
India's largest selling filter cigarette
Wills Filter
Filter and tobacco perfectly matched

In 1969 ITC, the manufacturers of Wills, introduced the Wills Made for Each Other contest to select the perfectly matched couple. Which half forms the paper rolled tobacco and who's the filter is a topic of an unending debate.

A few tobacco crops later, the branding changed to Wills Navy Cut - Filter Tipped. And the ad text evolved to:
Made for each other filter and tobacco perfectly matched
What tobacco men call marriage - the marriage of the right tobacco with the right filter - is what makes Wills Filter Tipped extra special. A filter cigarette as good as Wills is not just a good cigarette with a filter at one end - it is a good filter cigarette. The fine tobacco in Wills are specially blended to match the filter, enhance the taste. That is why you will find Wills Filter Tipped so satisfying. So many discriminating smokers already have.
they're great... they're Wills
Rs 1.20 for 20; 60 paise for 10

The ad was published in 1971 and 36 years later a pack of 10s costs Rs 34. An inflation of 5566.67 per cent! An annual rate would be around 154.63 per cent.

Made for each other in 1994. The models had changed but not much difference in the theme and also the copy.

Wills Navy Cut in a more modern avatar, not the ad, the packaging (2001)

Celebrating the arrival of 2003

A Wills ad from April 2004. Would be among the last ones to appear in mainstream print.

Other brands:

Charminar GOLD. I don't see this brand anywhere nowadays.

The copy reads:
Smoothness has never been so satisfying
Charminar GOLD Filter
Rs 1/95 for 20
Local taxes extra
Such a rare combination: smoothness, but with all the taste, all the satisfaction.
Just what you always wanted: Charminar GOLD

Wills Insignia. Where quality touches infinity.

Gold Flake is by far the most popular cigarette brand in India (when I last saw the stats).

Gold Flake. It's Honeydew Smooth (2003)

Gold Flake. It's Honeydew Smooth (2003)

Gold Flake Lights. It's Honeydew Smooth

Gold Flake Ultima (2004)

Wills Classic Ultra Milds. Discover a passion (2002)

Wills Classic. Discover a passion. For those who value taste (2003)

India Kings. One of the premium cigarette brands in India. (2004)

Godfrey Phillips. There can be no fire without passion.

Godfrey Phillips Jaiselmer

Godfrey Phillips Originals

Four Square. The Man with the Smooth Edge (2004)

Four Square. The Man with the Smooth Edge (2003)

Four Square. The Man with the Smooth Edge.

Four Square. The Man with the Smooth Edge (2001)

Spicy fresh offer
Camera mobile phone
Movie tickets couple
Music CDs
Win instant prizes with Cluv Spice 10s pack!

Stellar Slims
Introducing India's first slim cigarette

Here are some that I borrowed from Vinayak's post at At the Edge. Vinakak Vinayak has a growing collection of vintage Indian print ads.

Give me a bike.
Give me a highway.
Give me my girl.
And give me the taste of toasted tobacco.
Toasted taste made milder.
That's the way I like it.
Discover the taste of toasted tobacco enjoyed by millions the world over. Now made milder and captured for your smoking pleasure in Charminar Filter.
Charminar Filter
Main dealer: Vazir Sultan & Sons, Hyderabad

Live life Kingssize
Four Suqare Kings
All the taste, all the way
(Input from Vinayak: Four Square Cigarette ad featuring Suresh Oberoi from 1970s. I think the woman in the background is Supriya Pathak.)

An exclusive affair
Regent Cigarettes

Bookshops are for browsing
And it was Sunday morning...
At last I found what I wanted
So had she.
This called for a quick plotting or I'd get shelved.
Visa Filter Kings Cigarettes

The ads have been scanned from old copies of Outlook, India Today, Parade, Man's World, The Times of India, The Statesman, The Week, Frontline; sourced from Indian Advertising 1780-1950; and downloaded from the internet. Dates for the early advertisements are assumed and may not be precise.

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