Back in the USSR
...Not quite actually, but definitely back in the time when USSR was still going through pangs of Glasnost.
The first thing you notice about Air India, if you have taken more than four flights on it, is the inconsistent service. Today was brilliant. The men who were taking care of us really wanted to, and when Air India's at its best, very few airlines can match it. However, there are certain things Glenfiddich and great service can't make up for. Terrible advertisements made in 1980s, for one.
First there was this video by Colonel Kapoor which was made during the era of experiments with colour television. The movie started with a montage of bored faces in an Air India aircraft that looked suspiciously similar to the one I was travelling in but thirty years younger. The faces and the bodies then went through a flurry of activity, collecting baggage from the overhead lockers, rushing out through the door, smiling at immigration officials and looking dejectedly at the conveyer belt carrying luggage. All this action was shot in hot fluorescent colours scrambled on a grey background, one related shot after another, pasted together in a fusion of bright colours (think sweaters being knitted by Delhi women in Karol Bagh in winters). I was quite flummoxed. Then I decided to put on my earphones, and got to experience a stream of consciousness commentary describing the above mentioned process. It's only at the end that I realised that the film was made for welcoming us and saying goodbye to Air India from Delhi, at the same time.
Second, there was this Jaypee Hotel ad, which had this bored woman with Bananarama hair and a power powder suit attending a business meeting. Her boss was an yawn and hence, she craved for some action, some dessert. She started drumming her fingers on the table and mysteriously, the scene changed to an evening business party, where the waiter brought a creamy dessert with a chocolate covered cherry on top. That made her smile widely, like Madhuri Dixit when she had Bananarama hair. However, that made one of her colleagues (who was either hungry or jealous) take away the chocolate covered cherry with a swipe of the spoon. The protagonist grew upset again. The chef took notice and produced another dessert. Strong attention to detail and customer satisfaction from Jaypee.
The third ad was from Sheraton Towers, from ITC. All of us growing up in the last part of the last century would not have heard of this hotel, as now we call it Maurya Sheraton. The ad wasn't made in the last part of the last century, however and thus had more power powder suits, dour valets, Ambassadors and the works. I won't say more but can tell you that the above three ads deserved an Abbey if not a Lion when compared to the next Delhi tourism ad, which promised amongst other things, networking meetings in the city.
It would have made perfect sense in an ancient history museum. Surreal to say the least.