Seventy years after it was set up, as Air India’s divestment process is now truly under way with the highest bidder for the state-owned carrier likely to be known by August this year, BusinessLine presents the various facets of the Maharaja, which is synonymous with the airline across the world.

Seen in various moods, the Maharaja’s images have been taken from a design manual that the airline uses as a guide for the correct utilisation of the Air India logo and the Maharaja, among other things.


The sketches show the Maharaja in various poses and situations — some naughty, some showing the versatility of the artists who made them and some others, like the one of the Maharaja with JRD Tata, recording moments in the airline’s history. The best part about the caricatures is that they convey a lot and do so by bringing a smile to the viewer’s face.


The caricatures in the design manual also capture how popular the airline was in its heydays — like the one which has small pictures of the Maharaja in various countries around the world aptly and wittily headlined, ‘Wanted’.


The talent that the airline promoted — ranging from artists to sports people — is also captured in the manual through caricatures of paintings that adorned the inside panels and outside area of the aircraft that the airline flew. In fact, the Maharaja himself can be seen all padded up with a bat in his hand ready for a game of cricket.


The emphasis that the airline lay then and now on the passenger is captured in the Maharaja bowing in what looks like a window of the aircraft with the caption ‘Air India, the airline that loves you.’ The caricatures also capture the diversity of India as the Maharaja is seen in various traditional dresses worn across the country.

The manual in very many ways captures the true tradition of the country and its airline.