Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thums Up to Happy Days and Kishore Kumar

The other day a friend said she'd mailed an article, but since I could not find it in my inbox, I went to the spam folder. I found the article there, and along with it, dozens of messages that relentlessly promise penis enlargement. One of them caught my eye:

Prove your manliness! Take MegaDik and be a man!

What impressed me was the directness of the message. It took me down memory lane, to the innocent days, when advertisements were to the point and did not play on the charm of a sexy model to convince you into buying a product. Some catchlines from the past:

Iodex maliye kaam par chaliye (Rub Iodex and get going)

Vicks ki goli lo khich khich duur karo (Take Vicks tablets and cure your throat)

Sirf ek, sirf ek, sirf ek Saridon (Just one Saridon to get rid of your headache)

Khao Gagan, raho magan (Use Gagan oil, be happy)

And my favourite jingle:

Happy days are here again, everybody is feeling great on Thums Up! Refreshing cola, Thums Up...!

By 'happy days' they meant the summer. Those days, no one drank soft drinks (or 'cold drinks') during the winter. And when the sun turned up the heat, the jingle sounded enticing

Thums Up also happens to be my favourite drink. Nothing else matches its tang, believe me. It is very sad that Thums Up is not available in Chennai: my grocer tells me there is no demand, so no supply. I think I first had Thums Up in 1978 or 1979. Those days, Parle made two other drinks, the lemony Limca and the orange Gold Spot. Gold Spot has long disappeared, but Limca, touch wood, still adorns the fridges of the grocery stores.

The arrival of Coke and Pepsi turned the soft-drink market into a highly aggressive market, and that aggression has evidently spilled over to the commercials. As a result, having a soft drink is no longer a way to beat the heat or thirst, but a very macho thing to do. The Mountain Dew ad shows two men conquering their fear and driving down a cliff. The Thums Up commercial, inspired by the new sport parkour (the chase scene in Casino Royale), shows Akshay Kumar jumping down a building. And which soft drink is that whose commercial shows a boy asking Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham to step aside so that he could get to the vending machine?

A soft drink is supposed to make you cool, not to make you look cool. But that's the USP these days. Happy days have gone away, I don't even get to drink Thums Up! Refreshing cola, Thums Up...

That makes me bow before the manufacturers of Nirma. Even decades later and in spite of stiff competition from Surf Excel and Ariel and what not, their basic jingle remains the same:

Washing powder Nirma
washing powder Nirma
doodh si safedi
Nirma se aaye
rangeen kapde bhi
khil khil jaaye
Sabki pasand Nirma...
Washing powder Nirma
washing powder Nirma

Now before I sign out, let me remind you that today is October 13, 2007. Exactly 20 years ago, Kishore Kumar died. There was only Doordarshan then, and only one evening bulletin, and the news was announced in a matter-of-fact manner by the newsreader. Today, that would have been 'breaking news' on all channels.

Of late I've written a lot on the singer, and I don't wish to bore you with more of my thoughts on him. This song should suffice: it is my most favourite Kishore Kumar song.

If I may suggest how you should listen to it. Set aside everything that you are doing. Pour a drink. And when it begins to mellow you down, put on the earphone and click on the play button.

The special song is dedicated to you. You know who.

Main akela hi apne...


shubha said...

hey there's one more!! "khujli karne waale...B-Tex lagaale...!!

Diptakirti Chaudhuri said...

The Nirma jingle also used the 'endorser' line - "Hema Jaya Neha aur Sushma / Sabki pasand Nirma"

And on the subject of cold drink ads, Sprite bridges the feel cool / be cool divide very well. In one of their TVCs, they show a guy having a Sprite and immediately, a huge army of supermodels converge on him. After a couple of seconds, his dream bubble breaks and the voice over comes on, "Agar Sprite peene se itna kuchh hota, to kya sirf nau rupyah ka bikta?"

I suppose all of us born in the early 70s have this thing for nostalgia - Iodex ads, Kishore Kumar songs, RD Burman stories... Loved your other posts as well!

Anonymous said...

i just dont like ur picture on the blog. think it is an obsession with writers or wannabe writes to publish snaps with a pen or a cigarette dangling from their fingers. yuk. but ye u write damn well, like that.

Anonymous said...

Thums Up was my favorite drink & I still drink it sometimes, but it doesn't taste the same anymore :(

Anonymous said...

Old ads really facinate me. Actually speaking I can relate to them. Its just not old ads, the same with old movies, songs, fashion, food, thoughts and everything. There is something golden about old ones. As the saying goes: Old is gold. In fact I know for sure I am your friend because you too are nostalgic like me. Great post BG, waiting to read more. Have been listening to the song from morning.

Anonymous said...

The lyrics in the song, I feel, indicates that it has been dedicated to me. Even if its not so, I wish to believe. What say!!!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that the very first Indian ad jingle is - 'Lifebuoy hain jahan tandoorusti hai wahan - Laaife buoy'!

Unknown said...

You can find athums up is selected stores in Chennai.

akurosawafan said...

i didn't think there were others out there who would remember the old ad jingles word for word. haha! here's another one:

jo OK sabun se nahaye
kamal sa khil jaaye!
OK nahanein ka bada sabun
(Tata Utpadak!)

akurosawafan said...


phir bhediye ne memne se kaha..
main tumhe khaa jaaonga

(cough cough)

gale mein khich khich gale mein..
kya karooon??

vicks ki goli lo
khich khich door karo!


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