Rahul da Cunha: Votes up?

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

So, it's voting day on Tuesday. I’m driving around Mumbai city, the urban landscape is dotted with gigantic hoardings of various political parties megaphoning their promises.

(I was under the impression that the Election Commission had very stringent rules prohibiting this, guess I was wrong.)

So yeah, there are these massive billboards. Last week, there was a poster at Haji Ali, of SRK as Raees glaring at me which has been replaced with one titan of a political leader, his index finer pointed at me, promising something in Marathi, against a white background, the party symbol in orange. Ten metres down the road, there’s an equally large hoarding, with another important political supremo, of a rival party, also pointing his finger at me, also pledging change, also in Marathi, except it’s a slightly more of a profile shot - identical white back ground and identical orange symbol, well, um, different design.

And then across the road, there’s yet another hoarding, a tad smaller, lesser budgets perhaps, with an older lady-younger lad combo, promising me something, except here I can’t tell what language it’s in, because it’s like an entire speech has been copy pasted on. But, I’m guessing it’s Marathi, and yup white background, and orange logo, uhm different symbol.

So, here are my thoughts, as I nearly thump into the vehicle in front, attempting to soak in all this info and decide in a millisecond who is my ballot choice.

Did all these political giants all pool in and hire the same advertising agency?

Did no one tell them about the golden rules of outdoor advertising?

Maximum five to six words on a 20-foot by 20-foot surface; that all the average person has is three seconds to read your message as he flashes by a billboard. Did their agencies also not tell them, that, maybe the campaigns should have attempted to look a little different?

And then the language of communication: Marathi. Look, I totally respect that, but maybe only about 40 per cent of the city can understand. This is election time, you don’t want my vote, sirs? Just asking.

So, your voter has to be Marathi literate, have 20/20 vision, speed read 20-odd lines and decide which party to vote for, all in three seconds Wow, that’s maybe six people in the entire city!

Here’s my final thing, dear politicos... let’s just take one of your promises, beautification of the city. You couldn’t prevent trees from being hacked for an underground metro, you’ve taken away all my parks, I’m travelling on roads that seem like the moon’s surface, how exactly are you planning to change the scene-scenery? You’ll understand why I’m cynical.

Dudes in power. I don’t want change. I’m kind of done with promises of progress.

I mean I was promised we would the next Shanghai... and look where we are. Just give me the Bombay we were 20 years ago. Give us our pride back. Don’t reduce Mumbai to rubble. Stem the rot, stop the decay.

Do that, and you can talk to me in any language.

I’ll even give you my vote.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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