Before Twitter trends and viral stories became the barometer of India’s conscience, it was the little Amul girl donning the polka-dotted frock who served the country its regular food for thought.
A new book titled ‘Amul’s INDIA 3.0’, that chronicles advertisements featuring the ageless mascot, known for her witty one-liners on the highs and lows of the country, was recently launched here.
The book covering topical grounds and popular incidents from the contemporary context is an updated edition of two similar books that were launched earlier.
Be it the use of the ungrammatical phrase “Utterly Butterly”, or the satirical take on the nation’s concerns and obsessions spanning the realms of politics, Bollywood and cricket, the campaign that began in 1966 continues to hold a mirror to the society, with the unfazed innocence of the Amul girl.
From taking a dig at the intolerance debate with “Taalerance se taalerance mila!” to celebrating India winning the T20 World Cup in 2007 under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni with “Anhoni ko Dhoni karde!”, the campaign has catered to the diverse emotions of modern India.
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The book has essays by and interviews of prominent public figures, including Karan Johar, Shyam Benegal, Sachin Tendulkar, and Shashi Tharoor, among others, who have found themselves being made the unwitting targets of the iconic Amul hoardings.
“I have a copy of each and every Amul poster featuring me. For me, when the campaign covers a film of mine, I take it as an endorsement by the public of its success. It goes the same way for the failure too,” writes Amitabh Bachchan in the book.
Perhaps only second to R K Laxman’s widely popular ‘The Comman Man’, the ever-mischevious Amul girl has lampooned every contoversy while managing to stay out of them herself.
“Amul girl has commented on everyone. Nobody has displayed anger. Amul girl is like a daughter. We know what she is saying is correct,” says R S Sodhi Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).
Although of Indian origin, the unnamed girl has never shied away from making remarks on international issues.
When Donald Trump became the subject of ridicule and rancour during the 2016 US Presidential polls, she said, “Donald’s Blowing his own Trump!”.
Issues like the 2015 Paris attacks and North Korea taking up nuclear arms drew one-liners like “Don’t let terror Parisalyse you” and “Nuke Ruk Ruk, Arre Baba Ruk” respectively.
The purple-headed lass, capable of switching between several roles, has always risen to the ocassion, be it playing a crusader or a cheerleader.
“The cartoon ad takes up a subject from the news, draws them brilliantly, and accompany them with a tounge-in-cheek caption, usually involving a pun.
“They literally bring the product home to the hearts and minds, not just the stomachs, of Indians,” writes politician Shashi Tharoor, who has made it to several of the Amul ads.
The latest advertisement on Tharoor was based on his speech at Oxford University where he eloquently argued that colonial Britain’s prosperity was built on India’s resources.
The ad read, “Owe for Oxford!… Amul Bread par Tharoori hai!”
Recalling the first Amul hoarding on Bollywood that played with the title of Aamir Khan starrer “Lagaan”, Director Karan Johar writes, “the Amul hoardings stand for three qualities – morality, intelligence and humour”.
“The Amul girl represents the India that should have been but is not. She truly stands for India. She has aged so well. I wish the country has aged as well, emerged as strong,” says Johar.
From one topical a month in 1975 to five in a week in 2016, from hand-painted hoardings to vinyls, and having appeared in 30 news dailies every Wednesday, the series that has become the “world’s longest-running outdoor advertising campaign” continues to entertain people with its unique wit and humour.
“Today, one topical is created every day-and-a-half. Our task is to keep the message snappy and impactful. Never mean or malicious. The mirth of an issue is vital, expressed in a maximum of three or four words,” says Rahul DaCunha, Managing Director, DaCunha Communications, the ad agency behind the Amul topicals.