14 June, 2021

The Centre Spread Unevenly

In this excerpt from Lucknow Boy, our former editor recounts how he came to edit Debonair and his juiciest adventures thereafter

Narendra Bisht
The Centre Spread Unevenly

Some time in the middle of 1973, a young entrepreneur named Susheel Somani, owner of the G. Claridge printing press—one of the best in India­—­launched Debonair. It was floated as a monthly ‘men’s’ magazine, which the promoters characterised as the Ind­ian Playboy. Rediffusion, run by Arun Nanda and the late Kersi Katrak, was the hottest advertising agency in town and they produced a series of mouth-watering ‘teaser’ ads. I don’t know if there was any awards system at that time, but had there been one, the Debonair campaign would have won hands down. The ads naturally aroused huge expectations about the product, tinged with slight unease. Where were the indigenous ‘centrespreads’, ie semi-nude female models, going to be procured from?

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