I don’t believe in getting all nostalgic about childhood- I really don’t. Part of the reason is that part of me is still a child- which has both pros and cons. Another reason is that I had to go to school when I was young. Even if you were to give me a second shot at childhood, if it involves sitting inside a classroom, I’ll pass. But that said, these ads still tickle my memories and if you grew up in the 90s like me, I daresay they’d have the same effect on you, whether you liked school or not.
1. Complan ad with little Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia
The ad worked so well that Indian mothers began to take pride in the fact that their children were drinking Complan. The Complan boy and girl were played by two kids who went on to make headlines in Bollywood.
2. Titan wedding ad
The dynamics of the father-daughter relationship in the backdrop of the girl’s wedding is a motif which repeatedly appears in Indian commercials. However, rarely has it been portrayed with such empathy as in this ad for Titan. And the famous piano melody based on Mozart’s symphony..always a class apart.
3. Colgate Gel Ad with Aiswarya Rai
Aiswarya Rai appeared in this ad long before she had the Bachchan tag added to her name. A young chap smitten by her charm has adorned his home with posters of the actress who indulges him by doing such things as throwing a cap to him(sic). Wacky to a certain extent but oh, so much fun. And the jingle used to be something we hummed all the way to school and back.
4. Liril ad with Preity Zinta
Liril’s ad was apparently conceived based on a peculiar insight- back in the day, Indian women could dance and sing and give vent to their emotions only when they took a shower in the bathroom! In true ad fashion, the idea was exaggerated to change the setting from a bath to a full-fledged waterfall and the Indian woman found her representation in the bubbly Preity Zinta.
5. Onida Devil
The Onida Devil was a salesman par excellence. Cutting through the social idiom of “Be nice to everyone..especially your neighbours” the Devil charmingly explained the Onida TV’s features and replaced the motif with the wonderfully perceptive, “Neighbour’s Envy. Owner’s Pride.”
6. Perk ad with Preity Zinta
Simple, smart..and with Preity Zinta in there, cute as hell.
7. I Love You Rasna!
Not Xbox, not an AI embedded Barbie doll, not even a new dress but all it took to cheer up a kid back in the nineties was a glass of Rasna. These days, the drink faces stiff competition from Tang and Tropicana but this ad remains in our mind for the delicious simplicity of it all. And for the equally simple catchphrase, “I love you Rasna!”
8. Nirma Beauty Soap ad with Sonali Bendre
Sonali Bendre turns up at multiple exotic locations in the world and even takes a bath in a tub perched on a cliff! Apparently it was the soap which gave her the requisite confidence to take on the world-literally. A hard argument to buy but it did sell quite a lot of Nirma soaps, we heard.
9. Cadbury’s Cricket ad
The team scores a Lagaanesque victory and a girl from the audience- who was incidentally munching on a Cadbury comes out and does a dance that was so not invented during the British era. The cricketer shading his eyes at the sight of her jiggling seems a tad too much though.
10. Washing Powder Nirma
Man, this is wacky as hell! And not in an entirely good way either. As a counterpoint, the jingle still sounds peppy enough- for a washing powder, that is.
If ever you are feeling down and is in need of something to cheer you up, this ad’s what you need. For no matter how much time passes, the idea of a smart-ass rustic putting one over a savvy urbanite is something we always love to laugh at. Or is it?
12. Dhara’s Jalebi ad
This one’s my personal favourite. I’ve wanted to run away from home on multiple occasions-no, my parents weren’t abusive psychopaths, it was just my dormant inclination for being a vagabond raising its head. And when the boy is lured back home with the promise of jalebis…the innocence of childhood has never looked so delicious!
13. Classic Toothbrush- ‘Laal Kaala Peela’
An ad to inform the audience of the colourful range of toothbrushes from Classic, what we remember more than the colours(or the actors who look somewhat lost) is the exuberant jingle.
14. Lizzat Papad
The Americans had the Duracell bunny and we had the bunny from Lizzat Papad. Okay, maybe that’s too much of a stretch. But this bunny still puts a smile on our face when he says ‘Ah-huh-hah, Lizzat Papad!’
15. Pepsi ad- in which SRK meets his match in a dog
Shah Rukh Khan appeared in a few other Pepsi commercials as well, but in my view none of them had the conceptual charm of this one.
To conclude, let me say this- I shudder to think about those girl children who would grow up to become adults who get nostalgic about Tanishq ads. I already empathize with their future husbands.