Just back from Hyderabad, where there is a particularly potent form of cultural hegemony on display in the advertising covering the streets, the rising flyovers, the ancient and endangered rock formations and the vast Out Of Home mecca being laid daily and diligently by the frighteningly efficient Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (motto: On Mission Tomorrow – which, despite the suggestion, does not mean they are taking the day off today).
Amidst visions of jewelry laden minor Bollywood starlets selling gold (moon faced, Punjabi heroines seem to cross over well down south), proclamations of BPO dream jobs which read like membership applications to an elite social club, this (pictured right) rather regressive campaign for the always colourful Deccan Chronicle (not surprising considering they are up against the sultan of sleaze, TOI); there are also innumerable invitations to be part of some at once sylvan/ hi-tech, aspirational/ traditional, stylish/simple, up-and-coming township.
One that caught my eye was for a particularly Cyberabad-ass project, “Aliens Space City” by the Aliens Group.
“Space”, as in intelligent life or as far away from the madding crowds (have you ever been to a hip-hop club night in Hyd?) as one could imagine? I couldn’t tell.
So, I proceeded to google the said company and came up with this listing. All well and good – nice talk about futuristic living, honest dealings, etc – but what caught my eye was a little rider at the bottom right “Information Provided by Client” – as if the web development company were covering off any liability on the claims made on the website.
I wonder, what are the local ASCI/IAMMAI norms on the veracity of claims made on the Wild Wild Web? I guess the above said groups are all busy responding to claims made against Bennett Coleman’s various pretensions at being no 1 in all the markets they enter – news, jobs, property, religion. (As a disclaimer, I would like to state that I did work for a while at Bennett Coleman, but that I hold no grudge, despite having mentioned them in two unflattering instances in this post…)
Let’s get back to home shopping: The pitch presented by home sellers says a lot about the aspirations of a country’s population, as home buying generally represents the top of the pyramid as far as lifetime purchases go.
I’ve traced the evolution of imagery touted by Pune’s (the other boom city I’ve visited) construction crop over the years – and this is my compact observation:
While the builders used to cluster their pitches around themes of ersatz swiss chalets, spanish haciendas and the always safe, always impressive british throwbacks (usually titled employing the words ‘heritage’, ‘castle’, ‘residency’ or even ‘monarchy’ in clumsy conjunction with the name of the builder), this imported imagery took a drastic turn towards India Shining jingoism – e.g. Sahara’s hokey ads which would opportunistically appropriate the visit of any international celeb by flying them to Amby Valley for a photo-op and running them with an incredulous and unbelievable endorsement.
Once we were over our irrational exuberance and parochialism, and perhaps wising up to the overpromise of the advertisers, the preoccupations of our homeowners and builders soon moved to more prosaic concerns, highlighting tangible benefits such as responses to overdevelopment – privacy, verisimilitude to plans presented (always look for the ‘actual site’ rider in the impressive photoshoppery), % completion of site, etc.
The recent trend tracks well with Harry Baweja’s vision for our country – complete with Blade Runner-esque conceits (amidst the glass and aluminum, the suffix ‘One’ has become the most popular addendum after the builder’s name) alluding to space stations, voyages and, I suppose, Aliens. Ah, well, at least we all have a place to call home, no matter how inhospitable the neighbours turn out to be.
(One final word, while on South Indian mass communication. Please check out this most simbly hilarious post on the Guidelines of Design for Political Posters by Krish Ashok (whom I hereby challenge to explain for us the meaning of the song ‘I was born with two first names‘).