‘Can I call you Daddy from today?’

Published Nov 04, 2013 12:12pm

This is an advertisement I don’t want to fast forward or place on mute. It’s an ad that I want to see (and listen to) over and over again.

It begins with a young woman decking up for a big ceremony, to which she is accompanied by a little girl. The “pheras” (wedding vows around the fire) make it clear that it’s a wedding.

Watching the ceremony, the little girl pipes up: “Mamma, mamma, I also want to go round, round.”

As the ad for jewellery brand Tanishq, owned by the Tata group, comes to an end, you are left with no doubt that the woman is getting married, possibly for the second time.

Aaj se daddy bulaoon? (Can I all you daddy from today?),” the little girl asks the man in the frame.

Gauri Shinde, who has directed both the commercial and the much-acclaimed film English Vinglish, said about the punch line:

Actually, we debated the line used at the end of the commercial 'Daddy bulaoon?' quite a bit internally. We were a group of fairly intelligent people and we weren't sure how it would sound; should we end with them walking off with him carrying her, etc. So, we actually went out and tested it on people who were not our average media, advertising circles and we realised that it was necessary to drive home the fact that it was a remarriage. Some people might have assumed it was a renewal of vows. So, we used that ending to drive the point home very deliberately. We didn't want to leave it ambiguous.

In India, divorce and remarriage is very much part of the social landscape, but is rarely discussed in the public domain. It’s a very hush-hush affair, which families and individuals choose not to discuss.

The ad takes these issues smack into the public arena of debate, something that challenges the stereotype that a woman, who has a child from a previous relationship, can’t or shouldn’t get married again.

As pointed out previously, I live but a short distance from khap land, where small cabals of caste groups decide how women should dress, whom they should marry and whether or not they can carry mobile phones. Those couples that violate the code can and do get killed.

If the khaps and their codes are at the extreme end of the spectrum, mega Indian cities do lend anonymity and privacy to relationships of different kinds, but these are rarely discussed in the spirit the ad has adopted.

“The ad is certainly unusual and perhaps there’s hope yet. It also goes to show that it takes so little to do something different, and I wonder why advertisers are so scared of going beyond the given easy options,” Urvashi Butalia, publisher and author, feels.

The ad is a departure from the corporate norm, where selling, selling and more selling is both the heart and soul of most campaigns. The Tanishq ad, while peddling Tata jewellery, tells us that it’s possible to be creative at the same time.

Most corporate ads end up reinforcing stereotypes – the woman cooking, man being served the latest version of edible oils – is something that is etched in my mind.

And, of course, do remember that nobody would buy cars in the world if a pretty girl was not showing off the latest model.

For me – marrying or not marrying, once or twice, or more than twice; living together without marrying, having children or not having children; marrying a Hindu or a Muslim – are all individual decisions.

Society doesn’t get to decide the rights and wrongs of these relationships. Actually, there are no embedded rights and wrongs in relationships – it’s only a matter of choice.


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Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan. He tweets @abaruah64.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (38) (Closed)


Capri of Bangalore
Nov 04, 2013 01:36pm

I WEPT when i saw the ad for the first time on TV last week. And so did at least a dozen of my friends. It touches a chord in every Indian womans heart. This is what we want to see in the new India - men breaking out of gender stereotypes and blazing new social trends. Here is a man marrying a woman - and a dark one at that, mind you! - who already has a daughter , his own broadminded thinking exemplified by his loving gesture of pulling the girl in his arms and finishing his pheras around the fire! Bravo, Gauri Shinde and others who concieved this ad. Easily one the finest that Indian Advertising has seen, ever.

rich
Nov 04, 2013 02:03pm

@Capri of Bangalore: I do not agree with you. Why does it touch every Indian women's heart?

I am a man from Mumbai and I just saw the ad and it touches me and moves me every time I see it too.

It is so beautiful, so humane, so very magical - I have a small adopted daughter aged 8, and it makes me see her in that little girl every time.

Hope other Indian ads follow suit.

rich
Nov 04, 2013 02:15pm

Why is the author saying for him marrying not marrying, Hindu or Muslim is the same, etc.?

Whom is he trying to please? What about us christian do we not exist in India or Pakistan? Or for that matter Sikhs, Parsi, Jains, Buddhist, etc.

sherie
Nov 04, 2013 02:12pm

@Capri of Bangalore: Not seen the ad, but I agree totally with you. This is what I would like the men of my country to be like too. I know a few brave men who were removed from their family and social circle for marrying a divorced woman with a child. I know many more still who, fearing the consequences, left the women they loved and married the one mommy approved of.

iqbal carrim
Nov 04, 2013 02:26pm

A revolutionary ad which goes in a positive direction for widows.Cultural prejudices in Asia against remarriage have unnecessarily deprived them of a fresh lease of life for ages now.It is for society now to turn a new page and take a more humane approach to the plight of widows.

Syeda Jafri
Nov 04, 2013 02:25pm

Indeed an excellent concept. Media indeed plays a vital role in our society & taking up such big issues will indeed leave an impact on our minds. Hats off to those behind the concept

kart
Nov 04, 2013 02:38pm

u forget another important thing about the ad... the use of a beautiful dusky model... instead of the regular "fair & lovely" representation... I think that deserves praise too...

Khalid
Nov 04, 2013 02:39pm

Nice coverage Amit. We need ads like those in Pakistan too. A woman who is getting married for the second time in Pakistan is somehow seen less than a happy occassion and more importantly always portrayed as if the man is doing the woman a favour by marrying her (if it is her second marriage). We need to get out of this rut.

Rai
Nov 04, 2013 02:42pm

Thoughtful ad. Perhaps a sign of maturity in some sections of the society.

Poovhen
Nov 04, 2013 03:19pm

The idea of understanding and adjustments in marriage is so not chic. It is fashionable for many people now-a-days to get divorced and remarry to show how modern they are.

Parvez
Nov 04, 2013 03:28pm

Good stuff.......its about time such things are aired more openly if society is to progress, irrespective of religion, caste or creed.

Khalid
Nov 04, 2013 04:14pm

@sherie: I couldn't agree more. Mommy's boys are the biggest problem. I think men need to start learning that if something is not good enough for their sister, it can not be good for the girl you are marrying. We (particularly in Pakistan) conveniently forget that unless and until we start treating someone else's daughter (and sister) with the same respect we expect our sister and daughters to get (both in India & Pakistan), we will continue to drown in these stupid traditions and the whole world would continue to laugh at us.

Rizwan Safdar
Nov 04, 2013 04:57pm

Nice Write up.. I think getting married, not getting married, or getting married with a person of different religion or caste or sect etc are personal decisions and no body should dare to interfere in these personal decisions not even the blood relations..

jaideep
Nov 04, 2013 05:50pm

Ideal Ad ! Hope there is a continuous string of such ads in all forms of media to help the modern society remorselessly break the shackles of narrow minded traditions and become totally broad minded for ideal progress of societies !

Maryam
Nov 04, 2013 06:14pm

Just to add one more thing that in this ad, they have shown a women with a slightly darker complexion ... just in line with dark is beautiful!

Cheers !!!

niraj
Nov 04, 2013 08:26pm

Nice advt and efficient promotion of advt. Tata Tea has been coming up with social messages for quite some time. Watch the Havel fan advt also, where in marriage registrar office the man contradicts the registrar and says that he would change his surname, a fan is shown in the side and in background plays the song ' Koi Taazaa Hawa Chali Hai Abhi'.

Pakistani
Nov 04, 2013 08:41pm

Loved this ad.Beautiful, subtle and so touching. Hope Pakistan follows suit in breaking these stereotypes. A dark bride can be beautiful as the young woman in the ad and the little girl showed (incidentally, the groom was not dark which again shows fairer men can prefer darker girls). Also, concept of remarriage, a woman with a daughter (a girl child which is considered a greater responsibility k 'kal ko beti k susraal wale kya kahenge, maa ne dusri shadi ker li?') is beautifully depicted. Greater sensitivity, compassion towards widows/divorcees and their remarriage (happily and with love the second time around as opposed to marrying under pressure or with guilt) needs to be shown to engender social accpetability. A divorcee or widow can love again and find the right person, a woman with a child and yes even a daughter can remarry with love, with joy and with celebrations.

Ajaya K Dutt
Nov 04, 2013 09:08pm

dark "brown" and gracefull bride with a charming DAUGHTER getting married to a good looking groom who picks up daughter to complete the marriage ceremony is a message that brought a lump in my throat.

This is a starting step for "India Shining" that no amount of Industrial and technical development can meet.

Sonny
Nov 04, 2013 09:37pm

In Pakistan I don't think there are Khaps or other caste systems. However, there are lots of religious caste system and Indian Hinduism cultural taboos that we adopted from India after intermingling over centuries. I think we should focus more on Pakistani cultural issues and taboos that are alien to Islam and Muslim culture. Perhaps someone can write a similar article focusing on Pakistani culture.

However, as per this article well written for Indian public and for those who think India is a "secular modern western" country. I think the writer pointed out valid points that we see are extremists in modern times such as, deciding for couple whether you should get mobile phones or not etc. or which couples the others would meet and have association with otherwise you can get killed as in honor killing!

Sridhar
Nov 04, 2013 09:47pm

@Poovhen: Only small minds with "holier than thou" attitude would underestimate the pain and suffering that come with divorces and widowhood to term them fashionable. Let us celebrate and congratulating people finding happiness after undergoing painful experiences.

azeema
Nov 04, 2013 09:53pm

i was in tears too when i first saw the ad on tanishq facebook page .........creativity and reality ....yes it is time to move on.....

Poovhen
Nov 04, 2013 10:49pm

@Sridhar: Please don't expect pity for self inflicted pain. And please don't club the remarriage after widowhood to those ego driven "modern and large brained" creatures who get divorced at whim and then promptly remarry to prove their modernity. These type of advertisements in a subtle way encourage Divorce as the immediate solution to couples with even minor misunderstandings...because there is always someone to remarry them..oh,yes....it is so fashionable to have ex-husbands and ex-wives...have a look at mega serials and you'll know.

Tariq,Lahore
Nov 04, 2013 10:58pm

'Ready made' family should be celebrated, not shunned!

Khalid
Nov 05, 2013 01:15am

@Poovhen: Please excuse my language but I have never heard such silly comments. Do you really believe people get divorced to be called modern?. If you know even one person who got divorced for such stupid reason then perhaps we live in different worlds. This is a typical response from a man of the last century.

gagan sarkar
Nov 05, 2013 02:32am

@niraj: One of the best ad in the Indian TV was done by Big B for a cement company. He said '' Ma baap kahin nahin jate, woh idhar hi rahte hay, hamare saath'' a good social message.

gagan sarkar
Nov 05, 2013 02:44am

@Capri of Bangalore:

watch BIg B in the ad of Binani cement, one of the best in Indian TV

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrQsZLAiRrs

Mukesh
Nov 05, 2013 02:50am

Divorce should not mean end of the life. The Indian society is slowly realising this.

EQ8Rhomes
Nov 05, 2013 03:56am

@Sridhar: Let's face it, Poohven is partly right--in as far as "celebrity" Hollywood and the music industry serial marriages are concerned. Ordinary people do not take becoming single after marriage lightly, and they suffer much for family and stability, and a little happiness. Children need caring parents and adults need caring partners in a fast changing and challenging world. As great concepts go, easier divorce was meant to protect abused spouses, but in practice, some people do take that as an opportunity to play the field again. But , in the West, subsequent marriages fail at a greater rate than the first. Double incomes seem to allow some people to make less effort to make a partnership work. It follows a sad perception that independence means having money; and not being responsible for the "other" equals "freedom" and "happiness". What has to change is men's attitude towards women, who have the right to be educated, independent, and equal partners in a household --- or remain single by choice. India is specially positioned to explore a respected place of women in society because of its Godesses. Indians need to remember that and act accordingly. Women, I think, are neither better nor worse than men. Watch them in politics! A nation that shackles women in ignorance, superstition, penury, and abuse cannot thrive in the global economy.

Joker1172
Nov 05, 2013 04:05am

@Sonny: In Islam, there is no such thing as caste. I am sure that a lot of readers will agree that there is no such thing as Muslim culture either. Islam is a code of life. For a believer, the commands of Allah Subhana wa Taala and teachings of Rasool (sallal lahu alaih-e-wa sallam) is the way of life. Culture comes into play from the region one hails from. Whether we like it or not, Muslims and Hindus of the sub-continent do share the same culture. The onus is upon us to differentiate between the two.

aaa
Nov 05, 2013 06:46am

@Poovhen: I do agree that divorce is depicted a bit glamorous in most of the medias in the world. As if it was something to be proud of. That is why this topic needs to be adressed in a better way. I feel it is depicted better in pakistani dramas where all the pain is shown and nothingelse. Recent drama kankar is really good topic on domestic abuse and divorce.

aaa
Nov 05, 2013 06:49am

@Ajaya K Dutt: Such articles make me wonder is all the progress so useless if even divorce is not accepted in a society. Look at the topics in the indian movies in the last years showing problem which not even 1percent population has.

Malik
Nov 05, 2013 12:03pm

Lets also try a little harder to make the first marriage work!

Malik
Nov 05, 2013 12:05pm

@Rizwan Safdar: Rizwan Bhai, For a Muslim , before any personal decision, are the Quran and Sunnah.

Sawera
Nov 05, 2013 12:35pm

@azeema: True msg is simple 'move on' life is short. Smile and be happy

rich
Nov 05, 2013 01:19pm

@Malik: malik could be she was a widow

azeema
Nov 05, 2013 02:51pm

@Sawera: so true

Khaled
Nov 05, 2013 02:54pm

It

Rahul
Nov 05, 2013 05:22pm

Amit, Good to read your article - which provides a fresh perspective of Indian middle class. Definitely, such coverages are better than psuedo-secular articles earlier on N Modi etc.