Long before Instagram hashtags and Twitter trends, we had some classic Puja advertisements. When these flickered onto our TV sets, it meant that the most awaited time of the year had finally arrived. We may have graduated to OTT platforms, but ask any 90s kid in Kolkata and they will tell you that the festive spirit did not fully kick in until these advertisements had made an appearance.
This Durga Puja, My Kolkata takes a stroll down the memory lane with some of these old (but gold) Puja ads.
It is only fair that the advertisement for Shalimar tops our list because let’s face it — back in the day, almost everyone could hum the jingle.
Pinned around the Durga Puja celebrations of a big, bustling joint family, Shalimar’s Puja advertisement was a hit not only because it featured some of Bengal’s most well-known celebrities of the time (think Rupam Islam, Chandrabindoo and more) but also because it captured the essence of a quintessential family puja.
Now, with just a few of such family pujas left after the pandemic, this advertisement makes us want to return to the days when Durga Puja was a largely personal celebration — the kind that united everyone in the family, regardless of age or distance.
Bound to leave you with a smile on your face, this ad from Manyavar captures the annual puja tradition of buying new clothes for your near and dear ones. And this shopping is made even more special when you are doing it for your parents, for the first time ever.
If the Shalimar advertisement celebrated the grandeur of a family puja, this one marks the shift to a time when family pujas had slowly begun dwindling. Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, the ad salutes the festive spirit that brings people together.
Britannia Marie Gold
From adding finishing touches to idols to puja shopping to people returning to the city for those five days of celebration, this advertisement from Britannia Marie Gold picks up on all those familiar scenes that one can witness around Kolkata in the run up to its biggest festival. Playing on the popular tropes surrounding Durga Puja, the ad is less about the festival days and more about the eager anticipation of its arrival.
Despite our fondness for these gems from the past, it would be unfair to miss out on some of the newer Puja advertisements that have played on our screens in the past three years. While they may not have that old-world charm, they share the same sense of camaraderie, elation and excitement.
Much like the five days of the festival, food takes centre stage in this ad by Oh! Calcutta.
At one of Kolkata’s many housing complexes, an argument breaks out over the item to be served on Ashtami during lunch. While one group rallies for khichuri, the other advocates for pulao. The meeting dissolves into chaos soon after as members get caught up in a heated debate of tradition vs. modernity. The tension dissolves only upon the arrival of lunch. As everyone relishes the food, their differences are set aside, until eventually, it is decided that instead of choosing between the two, both will be added to the menu.
It is as the wise ones say — when in doubt between two options, pick both (especially if it's food)!
Puja might be a time for joy and festivities but it is also a time for love stories. From exchanging stolen glances across a puja pandal to holding hands amidst the crowd and going pandal hopping together — there is nothing quite like the allure of ‘pujar prem’.
And this is exactly what Pantaloons encashed upon, with this oh-so-adorable advertisement from 2018. Aside from the quintessential puja ambience, what really sets this apart from others is the song by Anupam Roy, which perfectly captures the charm of a love story that blossoms against the backdrop of Durga Puja.
(Psst. It may be 2021, but at some point every Durga Puja, when this advertisement resurfaces on the internet, we most definitely find ourselves humming along to it!)