Advertising is supposed to be aspirational. That’s a word with so many meanings but at least here it implies that it allows us to experience fantasy worlds, powerfully enough that our senses now desire that aspirational ‘ reality’. The common orthodoxy is to dismiss all advertising as retrograde because it is full of false realities and creates frustrating desires in us, in order to serve the purpose of corporates. All of which is true. But it is also true that like any other popular culture, every now and then an advertisement film contains a spark of truth, an observation of wit, filmmaking that charms, a resonant phrase that manages to be something other than a sales pitch for the product its attached to. The things then enter our language and slang and become part of our everyday culture, because they have ended up mirroring some part of our reality in a celebratory rather than purely manipulative way. Alas, the new Tanishq ad about doosri shaadi , or second time round round isn’t quite it. Despite the general gasps of admiration it is supposed to arouse for supposedly crossing the lakshman rekha of what is conventional. Yes, from our friends in advertising and television, we know, that representing any images or people in a way too far from traditional is always considered ‘ risky.’ No matter what people may do in their personal lives, they may not always be ready to see those realities presented in public, as normal. So, technically, featuring a second marriage in a bridal jewellery ad may very well be uncommon. But, alas, the way in which this fact is featured is actually so traditional minded it puts your teeth on edge. The advertisement features a dusky bride in palest pink whose response to her beautiful reflection in cascading jewels is of a muted smile. A little kid hovers around her and at the end, just during the pheras , she revealed to be the bride’s daughter when she declares “ Mama I also want to go round round.” The nice MBA groom shows how noble, nice and accepting he is by picking up the little girl and doing his unconventional pheras with both ‘his girls.’ The ‘reveal’ at the end implies that second marriage is somehow a startling thing. The advertisement swells with the feeling that it is the descendant of Raja Rammohan Roy, uplifiting the widows/ divorcess of this world and reforming the unenlightened samaj . The advertisement’s air of self- congratulation on perceived progressiveness is precisely what makes it feel so traditional- minded. Deep inside this second shaadi sho sha is the attitude that a woman has to be ‘accepted’ despite the first failed or lost marriage by a noble chappie. Girls are always thoda sa on the backfoot.
No doubt the response to such criticism would be that this is the reality of our society. And of course that’s true. Women do feel hesitant and families do feel grateful upon remarriage. But advertising is supposed to be aspirational, na ? You want to see an aspirational, even inspiring ad about second marriages? Check out the ad for secondshaadi.com. No social message there. Lots of friends and family urging a girl to give it another shot, because she deserves to be happy.
So game is this ad, so matter- of- fact about life, marriage, happiness and doubt that you end up laughing when the cheerful bride ( in full- on red) appears in the last frame with her fingers crossed! I wish the Tanishq advertisement folk had taken some tips from the secondshaadi. com advertisement folks. But koi nahin , maybe second time round, eh?
Paromita Vohra is an award- winning Mumbai- based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non- fiction. Reach her at www. parodevi. com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.