Monday, October 16, 2006

Remixed Diwali

{This article was written last Diwali and published in The Times of India.  Just saving it here for the record and for eliciting comments from others)

The other day I read a news report about an Indian company that had invented a device to explode crackers from a distance – using an ordinary TV remote!

That got me thinking once again about how young Indians are combining the modern and the traditional in all new ways to create a whole new culture.  At Euro RSCG we did a study earlier this year that found that the youth of the country is no longer either traditional or blindly western.  The youth has found new ways of remixing the two.  That is why we are calling this generation the Remixed Generation.

Teen patti on the internet.  How much more remixed can you get?  A group of friends who are no longer in the same city, have decided to get together on Diwali night and play with each other long distance.  They will chat online and will presumably settle their bets through their credit cards.

My generation found it hip to be anti religion and anti rituals when we were young.  We thought the way of the future was the western way – supposedly a scientific attitude to life.  The new generation, however, has become ritualistic with a vengeance.  This generation is not necessarily religious, but is very keen on all rituals and celebrating all festivals.

Perhaps it has to do with the pride they feel in being Indians.  All previous generations of Indians have been a little ashamed about the colour of their skin and have tried hard to adopt the language and the culture of the West.  Everyone knows of people who get an American accent just because their brothers live in that country.  Well, today’s youth is aggressive about maintaining their Indian accents even after they have lived in the US for several years.

Last week we were inundated on prime time soaps with characters observing Karwa Chauth.  In office, I found several young women who were observing the fast.  At first I was surprised.  I thought advertising people were meant to be modern and progressive.  Then I realized that this is the new modern and progressive attitude.  An attitude that wants to observe traditional festivals in whole new ways.

Husbands fasting with their wives.  That is a remixed way of observing Karwa Chauth.  An act made famous by Shahrukh Khan in DDLJ exactly a decade ago.  But now metro-sexual men do not think it infra dig to show their love for their wives by fasting along with them.

A popular radio jockey who is also an actress was talking on air about having a lot of sweets on the sets.  Why?  Because everyone had started receiving sweets at home.  But they were too conscious of their figures to eat too much.  So what’s better than to share it with your friends?  This is a remixed attitude again.  Have your sweets and keep your figure too.

The biggest change that we have observed is in the attitude of children to crackers.  Time was when as kids we would beg our parents to buy us more crackers – the louder the better.  Now one feels so pass√© when you talk to today’s children.  If you so much as suggest crackers, they give you that “you philistine!” look.  

There are many changes in the gifts that are being exchanged too.  For one thing, there is a lot more of them.  Diwali is to India what Christmas is to the west.  Complete with gifts for everyone.  

Also the nature of gifts has changed.  Cadburys is already selling chocolate covered dry fruits.  What else can we expect?  Mithai with bhang – a la Holi?  Or perhaps Vodka Rasgullas.  

Expect the youth to dance all night on Diwali night.  They will dance because they like dancing.  They will dance because they need to work off the extra calories.  They will dance because the latest remixed hit is playing and they can’t resist.

Happy Remixed Diwali.


Anonymous said...

Hi Suman

I found your posts very interesting and I have blogrolled you.

Anonymous said...

Remix is also a great marketing tool for our times! look at RDB - a remixed version of patriotism!
Lagey Raho Munnabhai - remixed 'gandhian principles'; ipod - remix of technology and fashion...

what would be the remixed version of the humble ad agency? What would it look like? our business has spawned many specialist spin-offs. Maybe its time for a lil remixed integration for the next level of value creation! whay say?