Saturday, 25 June, 2022
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Modi had to fly in a seaplane because this time he was competing with Anushka Sharma’s lehenga

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I have full sympathy for Narendra Modi and his seaplane ride.

Before you read a word of this, I need to tell you that I work in advertising. Writing headlines and grabbing eye balls is my day job.

How tough it is to do this in an age of rampant ennui is what keeps me up at night.

Narendra Modi riding a sea plane — breaking more technological barriers than my new phone, and that too not on land, but sea.

I know Ram crossed the sea but he needed a whole big army of apes, but not our man.

So as far as entries go, this one gets my 10/10. But why do this on the last day of campaigning? Let’s understand that.

I have full sympathy for Narendra Modi and his seaplane ride. In the share of eyeballs, Modi’s seaplane is competing with Anushka’s designer lehenga, which took 65 karigars and 3 months. He is competing with the fresh roses in Anushka’s hair and Virat singing ‘mere mehboob’ to his new bride. Talk about a tall tall order! Whoever thought of this plan B for Modi in Ahmedabad, kudos!

Modi is also my 13-year old teenage daughter.

I might not agree with her.

But I do sympathise with her.

Growing up in the selfie generation, her sense of self comes from the image more than her own self.

Modi realises lighting another lamp and cutting another ribbon is not share worthy. So a seaplane, it is.

Plot twist.

Maybe Modi just wanted to be an actor. And maybe politics was his Plan B.

And now he wants to bring his first love into his marriage with politics. (After all, Prince Charles did that with Camilla, didn’t he?)

Look how exciting Modi has made his day job. Remember the introduction scene of Shahrukh Khan in ‘kabhi khushi kabhi gham’ – and the helicopter in the backyard of the house? This new Ahmedabad gig is like the 2017 version of that.

He did, after all, wear a suit with his name embroidered on it. And it trended. Even Ramesh Sippy couldn’t have thought of it for Gabbar or Shakaal.

There are two elements to spectacle creation: one is that people resort to these things to stand out in a crowd, and the other is our own daily need to get entertained by the minute.

“Will it be catchy?” – My clients ask every time I write a jingle.

I think that’s where social media was born. Constantly requiring an image that will be burnt into your soul – even if it is just for a day.

But there is a downside to this spectacle creation, I agree.

In trying to simplify yourself into one simple thing, you make yourself into a “heeng ki goli” so that people will just enjoy you for a second and move on to the next thing.

Modi is also very lucky because at this point there is no one who can stand up to him and he can create an image of a dabang hero, of a man who will protect us. There is lack of competition, and lack of consistency in competition. There is nobody who is consistently standing up and being the ‘other’. The only other strong competitor with the star-power was our ex-RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan. Even weak leaders, if they are consistent, will do. I feel bad for Rahul Gandhi. In terms of his image, he hasn’t even made up his mind on whether he wants facial hair or not. As a brand creator, I wouldn’t advise that. Every poster of his looks different.

I understand Modi. For me, the point is not to critique the man; the point is to understand the environment in which he is operating. It’s like something that happened to Amitabh Bachhan, where people wanted to see him do ‘the angry young man’ again and again.

But I know one thing, to compete with Anushka is hard. But to compete with Anushka in a lehenga in Tuscany needs a sea, a plane, and a Narendra Modi.

Swati Bhattacharya is Chief Creative Officer at FCB Ulka

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  1. Swati – you put in well in terms of Modi’s need for magical realism to surpass his own previous phantasmagoric image. But its not that Modi’s image which is winning a pure game of symbols , but his total control on resources/ media and discourse. In fact, the new Rahul is quite confident and consistent, and the old Rahul image was also partly built by the same money-media complex that Modi actively controls.

  2. Modi was flying in a seaplane because there is going to be a massive structural shift in employment. As automation creeps in and takes away jobs primarily in the manufacturing sector, it is the service industries like tourism that will accomodate human power in India (that aspires to be a superpower). Seaplanes facilitate the success of such a service sector, and showcase possibilities.

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