Here’s an interesting write-up by Chinna Ammani on stereotypical portrayals in Indian adverts. The opinion expressed is strong and the language uncompromising. Read at your own peril!-a
The Aiyaiyo Syndrome
These days I do what is called as a shooting supervision. When ads are filmed (with lip sync) in Tamizh, my job is to teach models their lines and rehearse with them. Most of them are from Mumbai and are non-Tamilians. So when they have to do a line in Tamil, for example "Adanaaladan Dettol ubayogikaren" (And that's why I use Dettol) , they invariably say "Aadanaladaanu naanu Detttaalu ubayogikkareanu" (Something hideous). Their exaggerated delivery of our supposed accent is all thanks to Hindi actor Mehmood. My blood pressure rises and I yell "DO NOT DO A MEHMOOD HERE. WE DO NOT SPEAK LIKE THAT".
Though their voice is dubbed later with a Tamil voice-over, I ensure that they pronounce it the non-Mehmood way. Mehmood has done this major damage to us South Indians by doing films like Padosan! Feel like sueing Lucky Ali, since his father is dead.
Saw a commerical for Alpenliebe toffees recently. The father in the ad is "Souuuueeth" Indian and is therefore dressed in a dhoti and is shown wearing a 'vibuthi pattai'* on his forehead. His son asks him "Appaaaa paaisaaa Alpenleibe kiliyee" in a Mehmoodish way. When will these ad guys ever learn? I wish I could put up a poster out there saying 'WE DO NOT SPEAK LIKE THAT!'
I was at a shoot for a headache balm the other day. It features a domestic help in a South Indian family. He is aged 28, wears a lungi and an Alen Solly full-sleeve shirt tucked in!!! And there's of course, the ubiquitous 'vibhuti pattai'. I protested and told them "No, this is not the way velakkarans (servants) dress" even though it was not my job to 'style' them. The assistant director replied "No No.. please don't change the dress . The costumes have been finalized after research(!) and umpteen pre-production meetings with the agency, client etc!
God please spare us!
* sacred ash usually smeared on forehead