AIR INDIA’S MAHARAJAH: FROM REGAL TO HIPSTER
Like a man undergoing a midlife crisis, Air India’s Maharajah mascot has lost weight, replaced his turban-and-sherwani outfit with jeans and sneakers, and looks decades younger. Instead of bowing graciously to welcome guests, he’s checking his cellphone, his mustache as long and suave as ever.
The original Maharajah was created in 1946 by Bobby Kooka, Air India’s commercial director, and Umesh Rao, an artist with J. Walter Thompson Ltd., Mumbai.
The makeover, prompted by a request from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was derided on Twitter. “Why Air India why? You went from India Maharaja to NY cab driver!” tweeted comedian Vir Das.
Responding to the criticism, the airline noted that the new “hipster” avatar, as some have called it, is only one of a number of avatars it will be using “to suit occasion and activity.”
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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