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Monday, Aug 25, 2003

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Konjam right, konjam wrong

D. Murali

KNIVES cut both ways. So do news reports, drugs, laws and almost everything. There are two sides to a story, two faces of a coin, two possibilities in a war and so on. A series of ads that adorn the hoardings in Chennai speak of how you can put your cell-phone to use: konjam duty, konjam looty - which, for the benefit of those don't understand, means a little work, a little `play'.

Well, that's what is prescribed if you don't want to be a dull boy. Only, looty which has nothing to do with loot, could be pranks that go beyond the call of duty. Normally, an expression that is reserved for naughty children who are too tough to control, but now adults with such a tag could be capable of almost anything.

For executives, it is a mix of meeting and flirting, but that is getting on to dangerous turf, if you remember the punishment that fell upon Phaneesh, not so long ago, and the `witch' story. So, a man in the conference hall, busily attending to a mobile conversation, is not necessarily up to matters of business, just as a man in the bathroom with a tool need not be the plumber.

Housewives could like to have a mix of cooking and TV serials, but that could tell on the taste of food. The advice for teenagers is to use the handset for a little dating and a little fighting. Then, there is the matinee which goes with something else, mother and wife combo, and so on.

If you have got the hang of the advertiser's mindset - to blend seemingly incompatible components - you would be able to churn out content for a score more hoardings. A little try and a little wry, it could be. How about konjam true, konjam false? That would be a bland statement of fact, because it is not unusual for mobile users to lie through their teeth, right into the handset, hands free or not: "Sir, I am in Nanganallur," the chap cries, but you see him at Central Station, but lying is no offence, and the man at the other end should be really sharp enough to smell the rat, by factoring in the background noise.

A little fact, a little fiction, is how accountants should be using as their slogan, though lawyers would compete for it. You can always pacify the black-coats with something like `konjam justice, konjam injustice,' yet it is the latter that outweighs the other often. For auditors, it is supposed to be a little true and a little fair, or konjam seen and much unseen. What about devotees? A little prayer, a little result. And if it is exam time, there is every likelihood that an ad could suggest, "Konjam sit, konjam bit."

What cannot be missed from the ads is the edging towards permissiveness, but to say so could sound prudish, puritanistic, snobbish and such blah-blah. I suspect that the following e-mail jokes have not been around the ad agency that makes hoardings. It is about a self-SWOT analysis: "Strength is my wife. Weakness is my neighbour's wife. Opportunity is when my neighbour is on tour. And threat is when I am on tour."

So, version 2.0 of the konjam wife, konjam amma could be hardcore, so be warned. Another snippet is about a `sinner' who says: "Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I am sexually preoccupied and often read dirty jokes and graphics from my cell-phone." You could be wondering how that is done, but let us continue with the joke. The priest says, softly: "My child, please forward them to me."

Somebody has played with slogans of popular brands to set a link to what is apprehended to be the most searched word on Google. "Sex is like Nokia: connecting people. It is like Nike: Just do it. It is like Pepsi: Yeh Dil Mange More. It is like Pan Parag: Ek se kya hoga." That makes the thing look like a Bombay thali. Somebody being accused of suggestive ads for phones might use that as defence. Maybe we are treading on something that is not clearly white, nor totally black. Grey stuff, that is fuzzy and you can't take a stand this way or that, to say this is konjam right, konjam wrong.

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