Knot a chance

Knot a chance

Are television commercials going beyond stereotypes and cliches of urban Indian couples?

In a television commercial,parents ask their son if he often dines alone since his wife is away at work. They wonder why she needs to work,even after his recent promotion. The husband says she works because she likes to. When the wife joins them at the table,he serves her dinner. This ad for a matrimonial site shows the dynamics of a middle-class couple steadily changing. This change echoes in Gauri Shinde’s recent jewellery ad which stirred a conversation about remarriages. Shinde says that like films,advertisements too have their phases where they follow trends. “The important thing is that these ads encourage us to rethink our ideas of relationships and start a discussion,” she says.

Recently,the ad world in India seems to have hit the right cord. There is a significant shift in the role of a woman,with ads seldom showing the wife or the mother waiting on her husband or children with tea,coffee or juice. This is credited to the change in the audience demographics of late 20-year-olds and early 30-year-olds. “The 6,000 women we surveyed for the matrimony commercial had non-negotiable requirements for marriage,such as pursuing their career or continuing their studies after marriage. For them,love and romance has taken a backseat and they’re looking for something more fulfilling,” says Rajesh Ramaswamy,Group Creative Director,Lowe Lintas,the company that conceptualised the commercial. Much like urban couples today,the couple in the ad,seem happy with their individual lives,understand each other’s work commitments and are fine with their partners having a life beyond marriage.

Such couples also seem to have boundaries marked differently. “Today,the man and the woman share equal space and responsibility. There is a role-reversal that is fun to watch because so many of us have done it. The husband might be in the kitchen getting dinner ready while the wife is on her way home,” says Arun Iyer,National Creative Director,Lowe Lintas. Be it a macho Salman Khan washing clothes with his wife in a detergent ad,or a couple talking about being life partners in washing dishes as in singing,or a jewellery ad that shows a cheeky husband lazing around as his wife puts up Diwali decorations — stereotypes are fading away.

Another noticeable difference is that the chemistry between a married couple is notably more real with less gloss. “It is a more casual and easy-going mood that we look to create,” says Iyer. “There is no point in showing a larger-than-life romance play on screen,if it doesn’t happen in our living rooms. In fact,the less cliched you keep the conversation,the more enchanting it is to watch,” he says.


Conversations too are more spontaneous. “The couple may not profess their undying love for each other,but that’s okay. It is also okay to not be entirely sure or confident. Showing a real conversation is probably what works,” says Iyer. In another jewellery ad,the bride voices her apprehensions about marriage,at the mandap. She asks her husband,‘What if you’re not good at marriage?’ Without missing a beat,he replies that it is a possibility in this lifetime,but for the next six,he says they’ll manage.

While these may not cover the numerous commercials on air,it certainly is a tilt towards showing reality,without frills attached.