27 July, 2021

The Manuscripters

The ‘varnacular’ of our society’s brand managers merits reading-into

The Manuscripters

Watching the Chennai Test against Australia, I chanced upon a new commercial for a brand of fan. A couple enter a registrar’s office, obviously for a civil wedding, and give their names as Vikas Verma and Shanti Pandit. The registrar notes these and says, “So, after the wedding, you will be Mrs Shanti Verma.” The groom, a JNU type, quickly interjects, “No, madam. She will stay Shanti Pandit and I’ll change my name to hers.” The couple exchange a glance of understanding, and along comes the fan’s image and slogan, roughly “The winds of change”. Not bad, I thought, spuriously liberal and hypocritically feelgood as it is—as, indeed, all such advertisements are. Then, I found a deeper, and more dangerous, subtext. Please to note the surnames. Verma is a Kshatr­iya name; Pandit a Brahmin. The groom, by adopting the bride’s name, is actually being upwardly mobile. (Aryan law forbids a woman to marry beneath her, but we’ll let that pass.)

People who work for adv­e­rtising agencies like to think...

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