Jingle Bells Television

A cracker of a commercial

The Lijjat papad campaign. Photo: special arrangement   | Photo Credit: 05dmclijjat4

When the Lijjat ad highlighting the exuberance of the bunny rabbit and his infectious laughter aired for the first time on Doordarshan in 1980, the first Indian ad to feature a muppet, it made television history of sortsThe ad, featuring a human being masquerading as a rabbit, got ingrained into the psyche of viewers. Soon the “Karram Kurram” song was on everybody’s lips.

Interestingly, the ad whose voiceover “ Chai coffee ke sang khaiye, karram kurram, mehmanon ko khush karjaye, kurram karram, Mazedar lazzatdar swaad swaad mein lazzat Lijjat papad” is still etched in the minds of the 1980s generation propagated the idea that papad should be munched while one is with relatives. It connected with the large Indian families, who have a habit of sharing their meals together. City life has since seen an increasing trend of nuclear families, but joint families were still the norm back then, so economically priced, delicious papads for a crowded household to snack on would have been an inviting proposition indeed.

The bunny, its loud guffaws and the voiceover were all done by Ramdas Padhye, a ventriloquist in Bombay.

“The rabbit ad is now more than 30 years old. I created the muppet in 1979 and was demonstrating my skills as a ventriloquist at a show in a five star hotel when late Appi Umrani, who was sitting in the audience, spotted my talent,” recalls Ramdas on the phone from Mumbai.

Umrani broached the idea of directing an ad for his client Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, a women’s organisation specialising in papad, gehu atta and masala.

Ramdas thought it was just a small inconsequential ad, not realising that he would soon become a celebrated figure and instead of doing shows in private parties would soon be the centre of attraction in shows organised by corporate honchos.

“During my discussion with Appi I first thought of featuring Maharashtrian middle class characters of DD but the plan could not materialise,” he says. Ramdas then suggested it would be a good idea to have a cute lovable animal munching papad and making a funny crackling noise.

Admi to khate hi hai, magar ek rabbit ko dikhaye to baat ban jayegi. Initially, Appi was dismissive of my suggestion but relented because he had watched my show.”

When the producers of the ad asked Ramdas what kind of noise should emanate from the rabbit while he was having a go at the scrumptious papad, he, without much thinking, uttered two words, which are still etched in the memory of millions of Doordarshan watchers — “Karram Kurram”.

Says Ramdas, “To my surprise, my suggestion was incorporated but before the ad could become an instant and huge hit with the viewers, the makers were not satisfied.”

The ventriloquist carefully listened to the background music and decided to add laughter to the ad.

“Even today, this ad continues to be aired on DD and in theatres.” Ramdas did numerous advertisements and shows with the bunny but they could not match the earlier one.

Ramdas cannot remember the exact place the video of the ad was shot — Santa Cruz or Andheri — but he still recollects that it was in a bungalow where the crew could shoot in a congenial environment.

The success story of the ad runs parallel to the journey of Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, which, from a small organisation where middle class housewives chipped in making papads, has now grown into a viable commercial outfit. Its membership has swelled from a mere seven to thousands.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 10:14:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/radio-and-tv/a-cracker-of-a-commercial/article6751485.ece

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