Saturday, September 17, 2016

What Air India should do to retain its lost glory

Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju in his inimitable way is attempting to bring back the glory that Air India once commanded. But more interesting is the kinship that Raju, a scion of the royal family of Vizianagram, finds with the airline's iconic mascot: The Maharaja.

Raju, in a nostalgic mood, has been regularly tweeting classic pictures of the Maharaja from times when Air India was in all its glory — the sole Indian airline that was a symbol of the luxuries that only the rich and eminent were able to afford.

In the last week of August, Raju tweeted a 1960s promotional poster of the airline done in the style of a Mughal painting. It showed the Maharaja, with his turban and twirly moustache, proudly seated atop an elephant. His entourage includes attendants on foot and horseback, some of them playing Indian musical instruments. The entourage even has two flying peacocks overhead. The caption said: There is an Air about India.

The Maharaja was most ingeniously used when the carrier introduced a new route. One of the posters from the "retro Air India" collection, as Raju calls it, shows the Maharaja as a Russian Kalinka dancer when the airline started flying to Moscow. Another shows him speed boat surfing in Australia with the boat replaced by two mermaids. In yet another, the Maharaja is being carried like a prey, hands and feet tied, by two lions in the jungles of Nairobi.
17/09/16 Anirban Chowdhury & Mihir Mishra/Economic Times
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