Move with the times

Ramesh Narayan | Updated on January 20, 2018

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Ramesh Narayan celebrated his 60th birthday last week. In one of his reviews here, he said, “The male hide is rather thick, and will need consistent battering before age-old stereotypes are changed,” referring to an advertisement that questioned gender stereotypes. As it’s Women’s Day next week, cat.a.lyst decided to recap some of his comments on such issues. Narayan has been writing for cat.a.lyst for two decades now. We wish him a very happy birthday and many happy returns!

The censor board is all set to give a ‘U’ certificate when one of its members, a man, says it deserves an A for all the nudity it contains. What nudity, questions another. The hero stripped some seven times.

When a woman does it, it’s “nude”, but when a man does it, why’s he a “dude”, wonders the man. Hawa badlegi (times, trends, are changing), says Havells, making a point. Havells’ ads span a range of emotions and make several points, something that one associates with the brand’s campaigns over the years.

The ad for the South has a message about not treating menstruating girls as untouchables.

The new woman

The new woman, at least as perceived by a section of the marketing and advertising community, has arrived and is stepping out with panache. The Titan commercial is an example of just that. Nimrat Kaur (of Lunch Box and Cadbury’s ads fame) is the woman who is quietly sitting at an airport when she is accosted by a young man who turns out to be her ex.

When she enquires about him he says he is just where she left him and proceeds to say that they could have made things work if only she had sacrificed her work for their relationship. Nimrat then says that he could have sacrificed his work, bringing out the expected response from him, that as a man, how could he not work.

With studied nonchalance the poised young lady looks at him and declares that indeed he was just where she had left him. Ouch! Touche!

Now this is the sort of situation and dialogues we are getting to listen to that are refreshingly new, relevant to a particular segment and spot-on if one is aiming a stylish brand of watches at a segment which has either already arrived at this mental state or is definitely positively inclined towards it.

For girls, uninterrupted

In our drive against gender bias, female foeticide is one of the most dastardly acts we need to contend with. And the Ministry of Women & Child Development has launched a campaign that takes a very hard look at attitudes that are prevalent these days.

The grandmother-to-be at the sonography clinic pleading with the doctor to disclose the gender of the baby and quickly adding that money is not an issue to get this information which is banned by law. A husband, discussing baby names, threatening that if it is female it might not see the light of day, and a third film where the family seems to act in concert to abort the baby once they learn it is a girl.

All three films end on a very strident note that this is a crime on par with murder and the perpetrators would be dealt with very harshly. The visual of handcuffs on them or menacingly dangling towards them further reinforces the tough tone of the films. I like this different approach.

Wow, man!

Finally people are realising there are things beyond female seduction that attract men. While the believers in stereotypes would be happy to be glib and say “Really?”, most deodorant ads are to men what some fairness creams and sanitary fitting ads are to women. They stereotype them. And that’s not entirely fair. No pun intended.

Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. Mail your comments to in

Published on March 03, 2016

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