Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Goodbye Buladi!

This last one week has been horrible. After India's departure from the World Cup and someone else's from Bob Woolmar's room early in the morning, it's now turn for Buladi to bid adieu. Buladi, for unawares, was a major socio-cultural phenomenon in West Bengal. That means, people had discussed her in the local tea-shops after an ill-timed Sunday slumber along with other important topics like Nandigram, Kim Sharma, 'Yodha Akbar' etc. Officially, Buladi ("Sister Bula") was the official mascot for anti-AIDS social campaign in Bengal. Had she existed in reality (may be she does!) she would be about 35; 5'3" bengali housewife married for 13 years; 137 lbs mostly in her lower belly and derrière; with two kids - both studying in South Point and one that never gives "chaNda" (donation for DurgaPuja) at the first attempt. Now, there is a distinct difference being one like above and being the sole mascot for anti-AIDS campaign in a city where the intelligentsia refuses to believe that sex is an (perhaps the most) integral part of our life. In Calcutta, you don't talk about sex. If you do you must use really bad slangs to indicate you are now in your "Mr Hyde" mode and your saner, 86.4% in Higher Secondary Dr. Jeckyll would shiver to talk about it. Buladi had a very tough job to begin with.

So, what do you do when you are given such a job? Something like selling spare car parts to Amish. Probably one thing you would never offer would be a good explanation. Something like -

"You're a proud Amish. So am I. But if any of us wants to change oil, we call 2874561290!"

That way you create ample confusion by creating a mini-identity crisis. Buladi did the same. Buladi's message to city teenagers were -

"The urge may come anytime. Just carry a condom."

Apparently, a lot of teenagers kept a condom handy just in case they have a sudden "urge" to throw up after eating "fuchkas".

And for the very few students that got it right life could not have been more punishing. These poor souls who actually had an idea were thrown out of classes, often guardian called and looked down upon by the parents of the usual students who did not get it. As this report suggests -

"The Buladi billboards and promos on FM channels are quite objectionable. Students are asking questions about them," said Heritage School headmistress Meenakshi Atal.

Isn't that the whole purpose??!! To spread "awareness". Awareness begins with questioning - that's what we are told.

My observation about Buladi -

(1) Why do all mascots have to be fat? Anyone remembers Appu? I would presume AIDS affects thin people too!

(2) Buladi's "mobile number" - in case you needed it - was 1097. I would just change it to something like, 6969 - contextual and easier to remember. What do you remember 1097 for? The year the first crusade reached Constantinople??

(3) One of the campaigns had a message like -
""Looks, education, and character do not alone make for an ideal groom or bride..not until both undergo and HIV test." Well, that's politically correct. Only guys should not be 'tested', girls ought to be tested too. I am fine with that. Am just thinking of a typical Bengali matrimonial ad in Sunday Anandabazar -

"Besorkari software company te chakuritoro, 5'5", kolkatay nijosso bari (dee-tol), bhaiji bideshe pathorota, HIV porikhhate sosommane uttirno patrer jonne uchhosikhhito, forsha, sushree, asoborno / soborno patri chai. "

(Groom works in a private software company, 5'5", own home in Calcutta (2nd floor), Niece studying abroad, passed HIV test with distinction. Looking for highly educated, fair, good looking, same / different caste bride.)

(4) If I were Buladi, I would be merchandising stuff like Buladi drinking glass (come on. Most 'infections' happen when one is drunk), Buladi candles (and when it's dark!), Buladi matchbox (reminding you to go for a test after you light that post-orgasmic cigerette) -- all cheap and easy ones to market. I would also aim places like Olypub, areas around Metro cinema hall, Central Calcutta metro stations and South Point High School!

I don't think Bengal's teenagers get much sex to demand a motherly, good natured sexual guide to keep them away from HIV infection. Real mothers have been playing the role pretty well for years by turning a blind eye to the stack of Debonair magazines the 9th grader has hidden in his bookshelf!!

Buladi please turn your attention to truckers. That's where the real problem is alongside G.T. Road and National Highways of Bengal. But most truckers are from Punjab and I doubt they will like their libido to be restrained by a female like Buladi. What if Ogilvy and Mather creates a character called Pappu for it?

1 comment:

Saloni Priya said...

Possibly Meenakshi Atal finds these questions objectionable because she is incapable of finding an innovative way of answering them. Such is the state of education in Kolkata.