Tanishq – Breaking Stereotypes

By Rhea Yadav

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It’s highly unlikely that you haven’t come across or heard of the latest Tanishq advertisement on television. And the popular public opinion is to laud the makers for shattering a lot of stereotypes in that one and a half minute of advertisement. Indeed, director Gauri Shinde has done a wonderful job at creating a thought-provoking ad and something which forces people to talk about it and the issues within. If you haven’t yet seen it, check it out and read on.

So, here are the three things why this ad is being appreciated:

1)      Looking Over the Fairness Obsession

India, as a people, are obsessed with fair skin. Be it the fair and lovely ads suggesting that if you’re not fair, you won’t get married and you won’t get a job too or the garnier whitening creams with the skin shade meter, everywhere we look, fairness is associated with beauty and success.

This ad, however, breaks that stereotype and shows a beautiful dusky woman getting married and being competely satisfied with her being while trying on the jewellery.

2)      Acceptance of Re-marriage

The woman is shown having a daughter already and having a re-marriage. In India, a widow is looked down upon if she chooses to re-marry and society in general, associates re-marriage for a woman as her being impure.

But in this ad, it is shown that the woman is not only confident herself when it comes to re-marrying but her parents, who are seated at the mandap, are equally happy and comfortable with her re-marriage. So, in a way, it appreciably promotes the acceptance of the concept of re-marriage.

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3)      Non-patriarchal Husband

The institution of marriage is inherently patriarchal and mostly oppressive for the woman as against the man. However, the ad tries and hints at the husband being non-patriarchal by readily accepting the daughter’s plea to also take part in the saath pheras and giving a sense that he holds the woman in an equal position. Another small thing, but meaningful nevertheless, is that they have shown the child to be a daughter instead of a son and emphasized that a daghter can also be as easily accepted in the home as a son can.

No doubt the advertisement has helped break a few stereotypes but there is still something problematic with this ad. We, as viewers, need to look at such ads very objectively and understand that at the end of the day, the company’s sole aim is to sell its product.

Here are the two things I find problematic with this ad:

1)      Assumption Of a Re-marriage

Almost everyone I talked to about this ad automatically assumed that it was a re-marriage for the woman and the daughter was from her previous marriage. Why this assumption? There can be many other possibilities to it. First, the daughter could have been the result of a previous live-in relationship between the man and the woman itself with the decision to get married later. Second, the woman could have been a single mother and this marriage could be her first marriage. Third, the daughter could have been adopted and again, it being the woman’s first marriage.

So we see that there can be any background for the woman but as a society, we interpret the ad in the way we are taught to look at things. Because it is still a taboo in society to be a single mother and to have live-in relationships and moreover, children from such unmarried relationships, as an audience as well, we look at such advertisements through a biased lens. And this ad somewhere only cements the preconceived notions that we have.

2)      The Product Itself

Having talked about the concept and depictions and interpretations, the main thing which we all overlook is the simple fact that at the end of the day, the ad is selling gold. And gold, undeniably , is the most oppressive piece of metal Indian women associate with. Aurat ki sharam hee uska gehna hai, says a famous Hindi movie. This just goes on to show that the product in itself is very diabolically entwined with patriarchy and disempowerment of women and any promotion of that with regard to the institution of marriage, no matter how ground-breaking at the surface, is at its core still very stereotypical.

To end with, I do not reject the ad and in all fairness, it is still many notches above my specially hated ads of fairness creams and deodorants. However, the purpose of this article was to simply empower viewers to make sure they look at ads objectively and not take everything on its face value.

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Because Tanishq wants to sell gold. And they know how to do that. Very well at that, in fact.

Go one and show this ad to someone who hasn’t seen it yet and have a discussion. And see whether you find objectivity or not!

Watch it here-  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76E6b7SQs8

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