Wednesday, September 22, 2004

THE DEVILS ADVERTISEMENT

By
Niranjan Rao

Akram gets ready to bowl another ball. He charges in and bowls the ball. And Sachin Tendulkar comes down the track - this is high. Will this be a huge six? The fielder is getting under it. Will this be a great catch on the boundary?

FLASH! The commercial break! What happened to the catch? Was it a six? You don’t know. You can’t know! All you can see and hear now is - _Hey! There’s a crocodile in his pants! Or Dabur ka sona-chaandi chyawanprash! It’s a mad ad world out there!!
When I was small, I was a compulsive T.V viewer. You could call that breed of people any number of names - couch potato, numskull, idlemind…the list goes on, but you cannot take away the fact that we people were proving to the rest of the world that T.V viewing is the highest form of peace between man and machine. I did not ask anything of my T.V (unless the picture tube was smashed), the T.V did not cost me much (it cost my dad a fortune!!), and both of us maintained a stable and similar intellectual equilibrium (Don’t you dare call my T.V an idiot box!). Every morning of my vacations I would greet my friend with a remote-controlled ‘Good Morning’, and it would respond with a serene semiconductor smile.

When I switched on my T.V, it signaled a truce between me and the rest of this ungainly world. Although it was made in Japan, we were made for each other. But that was before the Pandora’s ad box was opened by our amiable T.V channels. Now my T.V is bent upon either boring me to death or frustrating me to insanity in the middle of a movie / match / programme. And its secret weapon is - you guessed it - ADS. Some ads are soapy, some are vulgar, some are tastelessly _funny, some are excerpts from the most shameless corporate mud-slinging matches, and most others are just bland plagiarised mixtures of the above four. And now it isn’t just restricted to TV. My refuge in radio was the other day, unceremoniously truncated by ‘macchar maarne ki double shakti’, and when I ran to the newspaper for cover, there were so many ads screaming at me so loudly that I was obliged to fold it back, dreading an ad-attack.

My life has been changed now. I am a shadow of the disobedient obnoxious boy I used to be, and the ad-phobia has me in such a grip that I am beginning to obey my parents (who themselves are stunned for words). I have even started having commercial breaks during my dreams at night, and in fact woke up today dreaming about Dravid having a shave in Paris.

You may think that I am mindlessly criticising ads. But no! I am a sensible man with a level head. And I have constructive remedies for this disease, which threatens to destroy human civilisation. First, all ad-makers must be guillotined, as an exemplary lesson to future felons with a sinister ad-bent mind. Cricketers must be convicted for ad fixing and for taking bribes to do bad ads. All ads must be unequivocally banned. All T.V stations must be provided with ad-watchmen. What? You don’t agree?? You must be killed!! You think I’m mad? You think I’m drunk? You…you…

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