Category: Lists

10 Best Malayalam Film Posters of 2019

best malayalam film posters 2019

2019 has been rather a weak year for Malayalam cinema. We had some terrible films come out this year, some of which were discussed and bludgeoned to death on Reddit. But there is no denying that we also had some fabulous poster designs that promoted these very films – both good and bad – through their various, often unnecessary, stages of publicity.

From two first-look posters to a trailer release countdown poster to character posters to a final official poster featuring the cast as a crowd, we had everything this year. And here I am picking the best of the lot, out of all the publicity designs (including every single version) made for over 150 films that released between January and December 2019. Fan-made posters were not considered but I should admit some of them were really good.

The advent of computerised designing tools and filmmakers’ willingness to question the status quo have given rise to these charming designs. And it is important to give credit where it’s due. A film poster is a work of both the designers and the film’s crew, but here I am going to focus only on the art. The art of promoting a film through an image.

Best Malayalam Movie Posters of 2019

Here are ten of the best Malayalam film posters that adorned social media posts and flex billboards in and around Kerala in 2019. In random order; poster files sourced from official channels with proper credits given wherever needed.

Jallikkattu

Jallikkattu Malayalam film poster
Produced by Opus Penta and Chembosky Motion Pictures

Dirt is the main character in this earthy poster design for Lijo Jose Pellissery’s loud survival crime drama Jallikkattu (that quickly became a sleeper hit post its October release) that has traces of the colour of blood to describe the Tamil-origin spectacle as well as the deadly mess that it leaves behind. Hand-illustrated (using clay) by Oldmonks, one of the most prolific and skilled design agencies currently working in Malayalam cinema, this first-look poster released back in 2018 earned the Malayalam indie a lot of attention even before it circuited across festivals around the world and grabbed awards. So much that I would like to note it as one of the chief examples of how a poster can ignite interest for a film even when the viewers have no clue about the cast or the plot. Film Companion ended up featuring it in its 2018 list of the best Indian film posters.

PS – Sadly, the designer who worked on the Jallikkattu poster, R Mahesh, passed away in September 2019.

Unda

Unda Malayalam film poster
Produced by Movie Mill and Gemini Studios

Another fine example of a publicity design actually having an impact on its target audience and piquing their interest is this first-look poster design by Thought Station. For a person who is not familiar with Malayalam cinema it is difficult to point out who the star is in this image. They might even say there’s no star in the picture. Unda by Khalid Rahman gave us a Mammootty that was different from his usual mass style (posters of such films often focus only on him and a few gundas flying in the background) and we embraced it.

It gives us a good hint about what to expect from the film. A police caper that seems funny but also seems serious (where is this group heading?). This is how first-look posters should be. And Thought Station nailed it. Don’t miss the bullet trails in the title typeface.

Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal

Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal film poster
Produced by Dani and Frames Inevitable

How do you describe a love story set on a shore and be obvious about it? You take a picture of the lead cast submerged in the water with fish around them and let the shades of blue do its job. That’s what Oldmonks did for Kamal’s Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal, a romantic drama. The shades work too well both against the darker background of the photo as well as an indication of what’s in store for us when the film hits the marquee.

Although, I will admit I haven’t yet figured out the inclusion of the shark beside the title, seen in most of the film’s posters.

Helen

Helen Malayalam film poster
Produced by Habit of Life and Big Bang Entertainments

When Helen‘s trailer was released, potential viewers got anxious as they complained that the story was entirely out there in under those two minutes. What would debutante director Mathukutty Xavier do to keep the audience hooked when they already know what’s going to happen to the protagonist in his survival thriller starring one of Malayalam cinema’s breakout actors of 2019, Anna Ben? I think Xavier must have wanted it that way, teasing his audience with just enough (or more) information and then pulling a fast one on them by supplying drama that is masterfully ambient, emotionally tugging, and superbly enacted. That sort of anticlimactic treatment is also seen in this para-minimalistic poster by one-man show Prathool NT that’s as captivating as the survivalism explored in the film.

Last year, I had given an extra nod to the poster of Rohith V S’s Iblis (2018) for featuring the names of the primary cast in it. In 2019, Helen and a couple others did it, which is a very welcome trend in Mollywood.

Olu

Olu Malayalam film poster
Produced by AVA and Urvasi Theatres

If we ignore the 50-year-anniversary stamp of the well-known soap brand and the dull font, we see delicate, wiry stems of water lily with bulb shoots and sprawling leaves embossed, engulfing the lead actors, Esther Anil and Shane Nigam, in their colourful attire, as they seem divided in their stance on a common topic yet unknown to the beholder. It’s enough to fire an interest in Shaji N Karun’s magical realism drama Olu where a young girl is trapped underwater and can communicate only sparingly. This Oldmonks poster gave vigour to the film’s campaign after its first look got dissolved in the cesspool of low quality content that is the internet.

Virus

Virus Malayalam movie poster
Produced by OPM

The hue of electric green, cyan, and roguish pink in this poster featuring the ensemble cast is enough to terrorise you and also give you a very good idea as to what to expect in Aashiq Abu’s cloak-work fiction tale of the Nipah virus outbreak that spread in some parts of Kerala in 2018. This use of shades plus the dramatic faces (and portraits) of the cast helped Virus gain extra momentum in its publicity which it did not need at all.

For an outsider, this imagery is striking. Designed by Popkon.

Thottappan

Thottappan film poster
Produced by Pattam Cinema Company

I don’t think any other poster on this curated list comes close to how Thottappan‘s boldly signifies a relationship between the two main characters of the film. Of course, that one for Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal is based on a similar trope, but everything comes together here: the brown shade, the title with a suffix that is the Malayalam word for ‘father’, and that pose where the kid’s foot is on the man’s chin. Does this count as spoilers?

Designed by Oldmonks, this first-look poster for Shanavas K Bavakutty’s crime drama got much love when it premiered back in 2018. My only pet peeve here, though, is the lack of space between the periods used inside the director’s name.

Android Kunjappan Version 5.25

Android Kunjappan poster
Produced by Moonshot Entertainments

There’s more than three elements that make this poster for Ratheesh B Poduval’s technology-is-evil reminder Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 stand apart from the usual trope that involves a gang posing for a photograph. How is a robot a part of this family? How are these people related, especially the people who are not under the robot’s vision and care? What’s the foreign connection? And what the hell is a cow doing in this picture? It makes you think, with Oldmonks giving one of their best work of 2019 and the crew giving us one of the best Malayalam films of the year. Go ahead, scan that QR code!

Moothon

The Elder One Malayalam film poster
Produced by Jar Pictures, Mini Studio, and Good Bad Films

If Oldmonks used blue to signify an ocean in Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal, they used the shades of the colour of blood to show what Geethu Mohandas had built using her story about an unscrupulous, small-time yet bumptious goon from Mumbai. Almost all the posters, that involve Nivin Pauly in his bhai look, are smeared with the colour red, and that is enough to ignite an interest in people who otherwise don’t feel their throat go dry at the mention of Kamathipura.

The man at the centre also signifies another element that comes full circle when you complete watching Moothon, one of the best movies I watched at MAMI MFF 2019. Such little bits are also what makes a poster more delightful when you look back.

Thamaasha

Thamaasha Malayalam film poster
Produced by Happy Hours Entertainments

What more do you need to symbolise desperation for union garnished with lechery? Than Vinay Forrt in character with a peculiar form of pattern baldness staring at the camera looking like he will approach you right this moment and profess his love. This is another example of bull’s eye marketing and caching in on star power (Forrt’s similar character in the 2015 hit romantic comedy Premam had won hearts). Extra marks for those words in Malayalam script in the blackboard behind him.

For the seventh time here, designed by Oldmonks.


It is always fun to go back to these posters and select the best. And unlike last year, I won’t avoid mentioning the films that had equally good designs as part of their marketing strategy but just didn’t get included in the final list. These posters should also get some love when we look back. In no order, those are Ishq (Oldmonks), Allu Ramendran (Thought Station), Kumbalangi Nights (Oldmonks), Under World (Oldmonks), and Praana (Vinci Raj).

What do you think about these posters? Which one is your favourite?

Check out my listicle for 2018 here. TN.

Best Films I Watched at MAMI 2019

mami mff 2019 audience opening film

2019 was the best year for me in terms of the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. I watched a total of 19 films over the six days of the festival which has now given me another treat: I have come down with a bad cold. And I think the culprit is Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse, the last film I watched, on the day when there was a light drizzle in Mumbai. Slightly soaked hair plus the air-conditioned auditorium of Regal Cinemas in Colaba. What more do you need to catch a cold?

Anyway, without digressing more, here’s five of the best movies I watched at MAMI 2019. In no specific order.

Ali the Goat & Ibrahim

A sweet little tale about love and death garnished with original humour. I was lucky to catch the rare screening of this 2016 Egyptian comedy drama that brought a broad a smile to my face even as I ran out of the hall to catch the next screening, a common occurrence when you talk about MAMI MFF.

lounging at PVR ICON
Waiting for the screening of Ali the Goat & Ibrahim at PVR ICON, Andheri

Deerskin

This was the comic powerhouse of the 21st edition of MAMI MFF where Jean Dujardin, in a role that was made only for him, plays a man obsessed with a jacket made of 100% deerskin. This French comedy drama cracked me up bad, especially because of its excellent writing and screenplay. Bravo!

Aamis

Straight out of the meat-loving land of Assam, Aamis (Ravening) is more about the interpretation and subversion of platonic love than gluttony. In it, the lead characters fall in love and execute an outlandish activity to keep their love igniting. It took me by surprise and I am still thinking about it as I write this stub.

Panghrun

A groundbreaking film in the most basic sense of that word, Mahesh Manjrekar’s Panghrun (Cloaking) is a profound period drama that explores woman’s sexuality and her part in a traditional matrimony setup. It is a critique of the traditions. Intensity is high throughout the film and there’s not one element that I disliked about it. 10 stars.

Moothon

Geethu Mohandas’s crime drama set in Mumbai’s Kamathipura is a wild and true depiction. And it samples so many themes at once I thought I was watching at least three films. Nivin Pauly, Shadhank Arora, and Sobhita Dhulipala are vibrant and unmissable in this gritty yet poignant Malayalam film (translates as The Elder One in English) that numbed me for a few minutes after the final shot.

moothon q&a session mami mff
The post-screening Q&A session of Moothon cast and crew at MAMI 2019

Choosing five out of 19 is usually difficult but not this time. These five blew me away and I am going to sing their praises for some time now. If I had to expand this list, I would include Wet Season, Aadhaar, You Will Die at 20, Gamak Ghar, and I Lost My Body.

A Dog and His Old Man, Ghost Town Anthology, and Cargo, on the other hand, if I were to create a ‘worst films’ list. I walked out of two films this year: Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir (boring) and Rob Garver’s What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (had to rush for another screening).

This is a great improvement for me since the 2018 edition and I think most of the credit goes to the some planning I did this time. Here’s another year of waiting till MAMI MFF comes back in November 2020. TN.

List: Dumb Things People Do in a Movie Theatre

people watching in movie theatre

I am currently attending the India edition of the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) in Mumbai and it is during one of the film screenings last day that I got the idea for this article. As the title suggests, there are dumb things that people do while they are watching a movie in complete darkness. And here I am going to list them out without much description.

  • Murmur
  • Take a photo of a shot in the film with a flash
  • Slide unlock their mobile (with the brightness usually higher than average)
  • Return a phone call after it has rung for a few long seconds
  • Make a phone call
  • Get up and leave*
  • Do something on their smartphone
  • Chew something
  • Get up before the end credits have finished rolling up
  • Stand in the aisle
  • Bring their kids who are clearly not interested in cinema
  • Take a selfie in the middle of a show
  • Laugh or clap more for than the accepted time span (the upper limit is 3 seconds unless you are at Cannes)
mobile flash taking picture movie theatre
Guess the criminals / © jonlarge/Creative Commons

I have to admit that *I have gotten up and left from quite a few movies because they were just too bad to endure but in film festivals this just happens a lot, especially if the entry is free. But there’s no reason why anyone would engage in any of these activities while watching a film. While I get why someone would want to take a photo of a scene in a film (for film Twitter, of course!) and I know they must have forgot to switch off the flash. But what I don’t understand is where is the sensitivity and common sense? Engaging in any of these just goes against the idea of going to the movies. One would rather binge-watch on Netflix at the comfort of their home if they also want to chat with their friend or munch on popcorn all at the same time. This is why we need stricter cinema theatre rules and regulations.

It surprises me more to see such type of behaviour even in film festivals where it is assumed that the audience is more serious and sensitive with the art and their fellow enthusiasts. But I think it is safe to assume that none of these festivals are secure from this type of dumb behavior from its patrons. Be it TIFF or Berlinale or MAMI.

Maybe I am dumb for having pointed them out and spent 30 minutes writing this stub. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Jake Hills/Unsplash

List: All the Films that Opened the Mumbai Film Festival Since 1997

mumbai film festival opening films 2010 to 2019

On 29 August 2019 the Mumbai Film Festival tweeted out a few photos celebrating their decision to choose Geethu Mohandas’s gritty crime drama Moothon as the opening film for its 21st edition scheduled between 17 and 24 October. It is the first time that a Malayalam-language film is opening the festival, which has for the last four years consecutively honored Hindi-language features (with the odd one A Death in the Gunj (2016) a mix of Hindi, English, and Bengali) and majorly English-language ones before that. So, naturally as a Malayalam cinema connoisseur it made me jump up in joy. It also made me want to look back at all the opening films of the festival since its inception. This list is a product of that desire and MAMI’s contributions in decorating brilliant cinema since 1997.

From 1997 when Jaya Bachchan’s comeback film Hazar Chaurasi Ki Ma opened the inaugural edition to 2010 when it selected David Fincher’s Academy Award-winning The Social Network to 2019 when a Malayalam film is about to finally get a seat at the high table. This is a list of all the opening films of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) in its two-decade-long history.

mumbai film festival opening films 2010 to 2019
Posters of all opening films from 2010 to 2019 in reverse order / © Letterboxd

Opening Films of Mumbai Film Festival

Listed chronologically along with the name of the director and the primary language of the film. Sourced from a tweet by MAMI (opens in another tab).

EditionYearFilmDirectorLanguage
1st1997Hazaar Chaurasi Ki MaaGovind NihalaniHindi
2nd1999The Sixth SenseM. Night ShyamalanEnglish
3rd2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonAng LeeMandarin
4th2001BanditsBarry LevinsonEnglish
5th2002Taking SidesIstván SzabóEnglish
6th2003Warriors of Heaven and EarthPing HeMandarin
7th2005Human TouchPaul CoxEnglish
8th2006The ChorusChristophe BarratierFrench
9th2007Curse of the Golden FlowerYimou ZhangMandarin
10th2008KatynAndrzej WajdaPolish
11th2009The Informant!Steven SoderberghEnglish
12th2010The Social NetworkDavid FincherEnglish
13th2011MoneyballBennett MillerEnglish
14th2012Silver Linings PlaybookDavid O. RussellEnglish
15th2013The ButlerLee DanielsEnglish
16th2014SerenaSusanne BierEnglish
17th2015AligarhHansal MehtaHindi
18th2016A Death in the GunjKonkona Sen SharmaEnglish
19th2017MukkabaazAnurag KashyapHindi
20th2018Mard Ko Dard Nahin HotaVasan BalaHindi
21st2019MoothonGeethu MohandasMalayalam

Note 1: The festival did not run in 1998 due to a lack of funding by the Maharashtra state government and in 2004 for unknown reasons.[1](MAMI – A Retrospective, The Big Indian Picture, Tanul Thakur and Roshni Nair, October 2013)

Note 2: For your convenience, this list has been duplicated on IMDb and Letterboxd. Updated every year.

A Little Bit of MAMI History

In the inaugural year 1997, MAMI screened a total of 70 films from 25 countries. The Big Indian Picture reports it as 65 films from 23 countries[2](MAMI – A Retrospective, The Big Indian Picture, Tanul Thakur and Roshni Nair, October 2013). Govind Nihalani’s adaptation of the Mahasweta Devi novel opened the festival which was then labelled as India’s first independent film festival. This, considering that Kolkata and Trivandrum already had their own versions, Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) and International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), respectively. One other major contender for that label was the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). But then MAMI was founded and it kicked off the first edition on 24 November 1997 with much pomp and circumstance. And it naturally ‘assumed’ the title. According to Rupleena Bose writing for MUBI Notebook, it was originally titled as ‘Festival of Films’ when it launched in 1997, which was partly because of a desire to replenish the dull mood of the Mumbai populace after the 1993 bomb blasts.

Either from the people involved in creating the fest or the type of films that were screened (The Fifth Element, Sholay (1975), and Ankur (1974) to name a few), it is safe to assume that many must have thought that it would revolutionize the industry. But more than either of those, it was self-sustenance that pushed MFF to the fore. More than twenty years later and with at least half a dozen more festivals running in India perhaps as a result, I’m inclined to confirm that it is the biggest cinema extravaganza that India currently has in the global landscape.

It is interesting to learn that the opening edition saw about 200 delegates in attendance and Jio’s part was played by Mahindra & Mahindra then which donated INR 5 lakh as sponsorship. The rumour that PepsiCo India showed interest – because of a lack of funds to run the 1998 edition – in sponsoring the fest in 2000 is actually true, but the organizers declined because they did not want it to be named ‘Pepsi Film Festival’. Nonetheless, India Inc. has been historically generous to the festival as past years have seen companies like Indian Oil (IOC), Star TV, Zee Cinema, Sahara, and Godrej contribute for the sake of continuity of the fest. In 1997 if the festival budget was around INR 10 lakhs, in 2013 it was estimated to be about INR 6 crores, thanks to ample funding by Reliance’s Big Entertainment (now ADAG). This type of funding helped MAMI turn from a cash-strapped passion organization into a real harbinger of creativity and vision for cinema on an international scale. In the next decade, it would not only start new competition sections but also run the only film criticism workshop in India – the Young Critics Lab which began in 2009 as a platform for young cinema lovers-cum-writers to hone their skills and take up film criticism as a serious profession.

One key thing to note here is that the organizers did not want the festival to be influenced by the demands of corporate giants, which is why film selection was and has been entirely up to MAMI. This confirms that there is no ulterior motive by certain elements who would want to push a specific film in which they have a vested interest. All the more reason to celebrate the decoration of Indian features as opening films.

What’s in a Festival Opening Film?

A lot, to be honest.

Since 2015 when the opening film was Hansal Mehta’s Manoj Bajpayee-starring biopic Aligarh, MFF has managed to be the starting point of buzz for creative cinema. How else would one explain the almost cult status that the Internet generation has given to Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut feature? Or Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018) that took Reddit by storm when it released on VOD earlier in 2019? MFF helps native films create buzz, the type that Moothon is currently enjoying as it approaches its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) along with other Indian award hopefuls like Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink.

mff opening films 1997 to 2009
Posters of opening films between 1997 and 2009 in reverse order / © Letterboxd

But this was not always the case. One of the main reasons why most of the MAMI opening films have been foreign imports is because of the buzz that existed and which they wanted to bring into the country’s mainstream cinema. Moneyball (2011), The Social Network (2010), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and The Sixth Sense (1999) have enjoyed heightened status and success in Mumbai and elsewhere in India also because they all were opening films.

In 2018, Vasan Bala’s action comedy opened the festival. And despite the hiccup by its producers due to an issue with distributors and theatre-owners, the film got a theatrical release in 2019. The buzz that MFF created in October 2018 definitely needs to be attributed.

An opening film sets the tone for a festival and in some cases it can also influence the rest of it. In 2017, Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz got the honour and the response was lukewarm. Although I could not attend the entire week-long event, I can confirm that the overall fest in terms of footfalls and audience response was much weaker than what it was in 2015 and later in 2018, one of my most successful years as far as MFF and me are concerned.

Some Statistics

I like statistics so it makes sense to take a look at what numbers tell us about the MAMI opening films. Here you go:

  • 12 are English-language features, four Hindi, three Mandarin, one each Polish and Malayalam
  • Three have been directed by women filmmakers, 18 by men
  • A total of eight Oscar wins for three out of 21 titles
  • Only one unanimously poor critical performer (Susanne Bier’s Serena (2014))

Conclusion

I think selecting Moothon (The Elder One) as the opening film for the festival by an organization that is largely influenced by Bollywood cine artists is a breakthrough. Admitting that cinema is the common language that we speak, MAMI has only transcended beyond what it set out to achieve when two decades ago industry stalwarts like Amol Palekar, Sudhir Nandgaonkar, Kiran Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shabana Azmi, Shyam Benegal, Gulzar, Ramesh Sippy, and others came together and sowed a seed that now gives us a taste of the best of Indian and world cinema every year. In 2018, the festival was one of the best experiences I had.

mami 2019 opening film moothon
Nivin Pauly in the MAMI MFF opening film Moothon (2019) / © MAMI

It is important to also note that the main intention of MFF was to create a platform for appreciation of regional films. International films already got the attention they desired, but for a secular and multi-lingual country like India where there are films being made in all major languages, MFF was a necessity more than a fad. The selection of a regional film (Moothon is produced by artists majorly from the south Indian state of Kerala) for the 2019 edition is a step towards an extension of fulfillment of that vision.

It is difficult to trace the history of MAMI but this list will probably act as a type of archive as we move ahead and break more barriers. TN.

MAMI 2019 edition poster

The 21st Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on 17 October 2019 and ends on 24 October 2019. Registrations are now open over at BookMyShow with one pass worth INR 500 ($7).

footnotes   [ + ]

1, 2. (MAMI – A Retrospective, The Big Indian Picture, Tanul Thakur and Roshni Nair, October 2013)

Times My Vehicle Has Hit Another Vehicle Since 2004

cars on a highway

I would have used the term ‘motor vehicle’ but then I would not have been able to include my first-ever road accident that occurred back in 2004. It was a bicycle versus an auto rickshaw crash. This also means that I have been using faster transport mechanisms for about 15 years now, making this a perfect time to chronicle some of my worst road incidents, one of which haunts me till this very day.

Here are six times when my vehicle hit another or when another vehicle hit mine or when both the riders/drivers were equally responsible. Unfortunately, there’s no way to find out who was to be blamed during any of these crashes. We will have to depend on my point of view. Let’s start.

Bicycle Vs Auto Rickshaw – 2004

I had recently been gifted a bicycle – a black Hero Razorback bought from a private dealership in Airoli. Because I had managed to learn how to ride beforehand with the help of a friend named Alex, I was allowed to take it out for rides freely.

I also had a group of friends with whom I often went for cycling sprints. It is while returning home from one of these that I crashed into a stationary auto rickshaw. That day I learned that you should not put all your trust on mechanical brakes.

The fault was mine because I was at a good speed of ~30 kmph in a crowded street. I would have not crashed had I known that rains can restrict ability of a braking system. The rickshaw driver let me go with a minor admonishment but then years later I wrote something generalizing him.

Motorcycle Vs Sedan – 2014

Fast forward ten years and I now ride a motorcycle – a black Honda Unicorn 150 CB. Thanks to my friends Mitesh and Jithin, I quickly learned how to ride the two-wheeler before taking it for a ride on my own.

It is during one such solo riding in Kopar Khairane that I nicked into a sedan’s passenger-side mirror. It was a busy street and I had crossed about ten meters before I looked back at the car and the driver. I mouthed an apology and the driver waved me off with a smile. Don’t know if it was the apology or the admission but none of that has worked for me ever since, as we will learn later.

This was the safest crash because neither of our vehicles sustained any damage.

Hatchback Vs Motorcycle – 2016

This was probably the most devastating and also the one that involved my entire family save for my dad. We were on a pleasure trip to Murud in Maharashtra, a month after we bought a second-hand maroon Hyundai i20 Magna from a family friend. I was still a rookie driver, trying my luck at our first long trip outside Mumbai. That was probably the first mistake.

I was fairly confident of my driving skills, but that didn’t help me manoeuver the vehicle properly as we hit an oncoming two-wheeler. The bike first hit my right-side mirror, breaking it into pieces, and then slipped into a corner of the zigzag road, eventually hitting a tree. The rider did not sustain any injuries but he claimed otherwise. And so did 100 of his friends who he quickly called up to threaten me and my family. We ended up being traumatized and settling the dispute privately as it had soon turned into a religious issue, something that the on-duty policeman seemed to have enjoyed that day.

I like to believe the blame was on both of us, but the financial and emotional damage was one-sided. It temporarily put me in a state of tizzy.

Hatchback Vs Scooter – 2017

This occurred in a crowded place in Kopar Khairane. I was trying to get my car out of the busy street when my front bumper slightly – just lightly like a feather touches the ground – touched the back of a pink Scooty Pep. The helmetless rider, along with his kid, got out and started splashing expletives in Marathi.

I asked him to relax without downing my window glasses. He appeared to calm down as he took a look at the back of his scooter, gave me another look as if I had rammed into his kid and he was forgiving me, sat on and took off. The surrounding brouhaha as a result of the drama did not seem to matter to him at all.

I am to be blamed here, but then I have some questions:

  • Can’t two vehicles even slightly scratch each other when you are out on the road?
  • Why do some people take so much care of their vehicles (more than themselves at times) when they know vehicles are just temporary objects you use to get from A to B?
    • Why do these people wear their vehicle-protectiveness as a hat of pride?

This brings me to my most recent experience.

Hatchback Vs Hatchback – 2019

Around the dusty area of Panvel, my car rammed into a white Maruti Suzuki WagonR, denting its bumper and screwing up the parking sensor. The guy put on his aggressive suit and started talking like, again, I had rammed into his person. So much drama evolved from that minor crash that I almost ended up giving him the keys to my house. I began my response by admitting my mistake and that’s where onlookers started grabbing popcorn.

I was driving at 60-70 kmph and it was raining, together which led to the crash. But the lack of basic empathy from the victim left me startled, as I moved on to a state of depression for two weeks.

Hatchback Vs Sedan – 2019

This was on our way to Girgaum Chowpatty. Just before the Metro cinema turn, a golden Honda City scratched into my car and sped off before the lights turned red. I think it did more damage to their car than it did to mine, so we’re square, I guess.

The traffic policemen witnessing the scene remained motionless for a few seconds. Then they went back to chatting. Thankfully, it would have cost me a few hundred bucks for the mistake of someone else because my PUC certificate had expired the previous month.


Riding or driving on the roads these days does not come without its fair share of issues, regardless of who’s to be blamed for the ‘issue’. And the best way to stay calm and live life is to use public transit and avoid private travel as much as you can. You need peace? Use your car and bikes less often. TN.

Attempting to List All Publicis Groupe Agencies

Publicis Groupe agency logos

A lot happened to Publicis Groupe and me over the past few weeks. It announced the merger of Convonix and Resultrix brands under Performics India in May and the completion of Epsilon’s acquisition early last week. I completed four years with one of its agencies a day before the second announcement. And instead of recording my experience and spilling some beans on LinkedIn like I did in 2018 I thought of creating this: a comprehensive list (plus my first try at an infographic) of all the Publicis Groupe agencies in the world.

For your reading convenience, this write-up is divided into four sections: the infographic (with links to downloadable PDF and high-res JPG), a bit of personal history and why I decided to do this and how, the entire list, and some more information about Publicis Groupe.

Here you go!

All Publicis Groupe Agencies in the World – an Infographic

I am a sucker for logos the same way I am a sucker for movie posters and design. So, when the idea to create this list struck me I immediately began collecting good-quality image files of logos of different brands under the Publicis family.

This infographic below is the product of at least four hours of web extraction in a span of three weeks where I went beyond Google to scrounge for the latest identities of various Publicis brands. How I did that can come later. For now for your viewing pleasure: all the Publicis Groupe agencies in the world (including the recently acquired Epsilon) in a single frame.

Publicis Groupe agencies
All Publicis Groupe agencies classified across four solution hubs

(Note – The PDF file can be downloaded from Scribd here (2MB). The high-resolution image file from Imgur here (1MB).)

It should be noted that some brand logos were omitted because they were either not found on the web (or I was unable to find them) or they were a part of an agency’s regional concern. For example, Digitas has presence across the globe where it is categorized as Digitas India and Digitas Hong Kong. I chose to skip those logos because of redundancy and a lack of space. But if you are a brand fanatic like me you should check out their website. Their logos are to die for; just look at the one for Kuala Lumpur. While you’re at it, also check out the logo for Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) (on whose website’s colour scheme is my CV based, by the way). And then take a look at my favourite logo of the Publicis lot here:

Nurun 2019 logo GIF
Logo of Nurun / © Nurun.com

I am also a fan of logos of Publicis Lupe, North Strategic, Starcom, Marcel (reminds me of logos of ING bank and Lowenbrau lager), Leo Burnett, Vivaki, and Publicis Health Media.

Logos that are relatively bigger in size than the ones surrounding them points to their individual stature in their respective hubs. For example, Starcom and Performics have been given huge real estate in the infographic not only because they contribute a higher revenue to the Groupe but also because they are an integral part of the hub (Publicis Media) they are representing. Compare this with ZenithOptimedia under Zenith and B2B Group under Performics.

Logos were sourced from websites, social media handles, or press releases of respective brands. To state the obvious, the brands own the copyright to the logos and other associated trademarks. This website is not monetized with ads.

The Why

Like I mentioned before, I am obsessed with brand identities. One of the first things I did when I learned that my agency is part of a huge holding group was to go on the Internet and read up about its history and eventual amalgamation. It is then when I found that Publicis is part of the Big Four in advertising, similar to how they have it for accounting. There may be a fifth one now (Dentsu Aegis Network or DAN) but let’s not digress.

Then when I found out that there are hundreds of companies scattered across the globe under the Publicis umbrella, I had to explore them. Not because I am interested in the group’s Talent in Motion facility or the Power of One idea, but because of the sheer existence of so many brands under one larger brand name.

Advertising and marketing pundits may be divided in their opinion about why that is so (a conversation that erupted earlier in 2019 when Accenture Interactive acquired Droga5), but I am personally focusing on the brand and work diversity, the scale, and the massive control that Publicis has in the field. That a young man’s brainchild first formulated in 1926[1]Publicis was founded in 1926 in Montmartre, Paris by a 20-year old Marcel Bleustein who named it so based on the French word for advertising (Publicité) and the French sound for the number six (cis). He was born in the year 1906. (History, Publicis Groupe – https://www.publicisgroupe.com/en/the-groupe/History) would go on to help pioneer and then influence an entire industry over a period of nearly a century simply stuns me. This article is possibly a byproduct of that stupefaction.

A Bit of Personal History with Publicis

Ever since I joined Performics India (erstwhile Performics.Convonix) in July 2015, I was smitten by its creative work and all the branding that I observed as an employee. The phase-wise change in logos and the branding as the Mumbai-based small-time digital marketing agency (founded in 2003) slowly got merged to the Groupe can be best seen through the changing designs of the envelope that enclosed my appraisal letters.

Performics India office in Lower Parel
The Performics office entrance that greets me every time enter the office

The first appraisal letter in 2016 was delivered to me in a white envelope, the second in 2017 in a black envelope with the SMG Convonix branding, and the last two in 2018 and 2019 with the branding of Performics.Convonix (green + white).

So much that this is an essential exercise as I celebrate my fourth anniversary with the company.

Another reason that I remember is the email conversation between me and my agency’s Co-CEO Sarfaraz Khimani during the 2019 edition of the Convonix Premier League (CPL) which fortunately hasn’t undergone any change in branding. It was something about a bump in his responsibilities in the organization and I had quipped how I did not understand how the hierarchy really worked. I think I have some idea now.

The How

The best way to describe this attempt is to liken it to first degree madness. Why else would someone spend hours to attempt such a list when the Groupe already has a web page dedicated to it. In my defense, there are a lot of missing objects on that page and does not really appreciate its own gargantuan scale. It might be Publicis’s modesty or the need to only push the bigger brands on its website. And this here is like an extended version of it.

I started my research with the Publicis website, slowly moving on to standalone websites of all the other brands. Since the list is just too big and the companies only accessible to the regions they are relevant to, I had to use a couple tricks to get past the frontend. I used VPN to access some websites in the Middle East and Latin America, used a digging tool to extract image files from the websites, used a conversion tool to convert SVG image files to PNG, and sometimes depended on third-party platforms to understand what the latest logo of a brand is. AdAge, Campaign, and The Drum really helped.

The amount of changes some of these logos have undergone is mind-boggling. And these companies sometimes do not announce it, making such exercises a tad difficult. But who is complaining?

At the end of this exercise, I had a Word document of all the companies under the Publicis umbrella and a folder containing all the logo files. I used PowerPoint to create the infographic which should confirm why the hi-res image (if you downloaded) is not really hi-res. The PDF is much better.

The List – All Publicis Groupe Brands

I have added footnotes wherever needed and tried to expand the abbreviations. In cases where brands have two or more names, I have stuck with the one mentioned on their website or on an official Publicis site.

As noted earlier, country- and city-specific brands are not included. Other than the four hubs mentioned in the infographic, this list also has two extra solution centers as found on the Publicis Groupe website.

The brands are classified according to the following solution hubs and their sub-organizations based on the mantra of “no solo, no silo, no bozo”:

  • Publicis Communications – creative communications
  • Publicis Sapient – consulting, data science, digital technology
  • Publicis Media – analytics, performance marketing, content, data
  • Publicis Health – creativity and technology in health sphere
  • Global Client Leaders – bridge between agencies through the Power of One and Re:Sources (Publicis’s finances solution)
  • Specialized Agencies (possibly now defunct)

Here you go:

List of Publicis Groupe Agencies in the World

Listed in random order.

  • Publicis.Sapient (Sapient Corporation)
    • Sapient Nitro
    • Sapient AG2
    • Sapient Consulting
    • Digitas
      • DigitasLBI
    • SapientRazorfish (RazorfishGlobal)
      • Rosetta
    • 3|SHARE
    • Sapient Corporation[2]Slightly meta here but sources tell me there is an entity such as this under Publicis.Sapient.
      • Vertiba
    • Vivaki
  • Publicis Communications
    • Leo Burnett Group
      • Leo Burnett Worldwide
        • Leo Burnett Tailor Made
      • Arc Worldwide
      • Rokkan
      • Turner Duckworth
      • Lapiz
    • Publicis Worldwide
      • Africa
        • Access
        • Adforce
        • AG Partners
        • Arcade
        • Publicis Machine
          • Moon Walk Communications
          • Moon Walk PR
          • Answered Insight
          • Incentiv
          • Narrative Media
        • Black Dot
        • Circus Advertising
        • Minanawe
        • The Creative Council
        • Insight Publicis
        • LOTUS Conseil
        • Publicis Efficiency
        • Publivision (Grupo Zwela)
        • QG Group
        • Red
        • The Dialogue Group
        • Tracy Communication
        • Zelman
      • Asia Pacific
        • Digitas[3]Digitas makes an appearance in most solution hubs hinting at its diverse portfolio.
        • Publicis Beehive
        • Publicis Engine
        • Publicis Hepta
        • Publicis JimenezBasic
        • Publicis KiwiPlates
        • Publicis Vivid
        • Publicis Wangfan
        • Welcomm Publicis Worldwide (Publicis Modem Portfolio)
      • Europe
        • Zero Pozitive Publicis
        • Duval Guillaume
        • August Media
        • Poke
        • Carré Noir
        • Chemistry
        • Publicis LMA
        • Effe (Effectivity)
        • Publicis ETO
        • Kitchen
        • Loeb & Associés
        • Lion Communications
        • Publicis Conseil
        • Marketway
        • MMS Communications
        • Monkees
        • WYSIWYG
        • Publicis EtNous
        • Reputation
      • Latin America
        • DPZ&T
        • Magna Group
        • Publicis Impetu
        • Publicis Lupe
        • One Digital
        • Deepline
        • Vivid Brand
      • Middle East
        • Publicis GSS (Glickman Shamir Samsonov)
        • Publicis Zoom
        • Super Push (Publicis/Dialog)
      • North America
        • Ove Brand | Design
        • Publicis Diversite
        • Publicis Hawkeye
      • Global
        • Nurun Worldwide
        • Publicis 133 (Publicis Luxe)
        • Red Lion
        • Publicis One
        • Publicis + Dialog
        • Publicis Pixelpark
    • Saatch & Saatchi
      • Asia Pacific
        • Law & Kenneth (L&K)
        • IAL (International Advertising Limited)
        • Ace
        • Saatchi & Saatchi + The Geeks
      • Europe
        • MUW
        • Saatchi & Saatchi Pro
      • Latin America
        • AAC
        • F/NAZCA
        • Sutil Nazca
        • 4am
        • Cumbre
        • Publicitas
        • Badillo
        • Lonsdale
        • Eliaschev
      • Middle East and Africa
        • BBR
        • Facto
        • Facto Reunion
        • Akeel
        • BrandsRock
        • Synergize
      • North America
        • TPM Communications
        • Conill Advertising
        • Team One USA
      • Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide
    • Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH)
    • Prodigious
    • MSLGROUP
      • Kekst CNC
      • JKL
      • Luminous MSL
      • North Strategic
      • North Video
      • Salterbaxter
      • PublicisLive
      • Publicis Experiences
    • Marcel Worldwide
      • Talent Marcel
  • Publicis Media
    • Starcom
    • Zenith
      • ZenithOptimedia
    • Spark Foundry
    • Digitas
    • Blue 449
    • Performics
      • Performics.Convonix (erstwhile)
      • Resultrix
      • AKM3
      • Frubis
      • B2B Group
      • First Click Consulting
    • Peoplecloud
  • Publicis Health (Publicis Healthcare Communications Group or PHCG)
    • Langland
    • Digitas Health
    • Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
    • Publicis Health Media
    • Discovery USA
    • Heartbeat
    • In-sync
    • Maxcess
    • PayerSciences
    • PlowShare Group
    • Publicis Resolute
      • Publicis LifeBrands
      • Publicis LifeBrands Medicus
    • Razorfish Health
    • Real Science
    • Verilogue
  • Global Client Leaders
    • The Power of One
    • Re:Sources
  • Specialized Agencies
    • Médias & Régies

(Note – List last updated on 15 July 2019.)

Some More Publicis Information

Apart from these agency brands, Publicis also has an AI tool called Marcel (as a tribute to the founder) which aspires to connect all the 80,000+ people across 100+ countries in the Groupe network to collaborate and find solutions. I see it as an extended and a possibly automated version of its Power of One idea. It was unveiled in May 2018 at the second Viva Tech conference in Paris and is currently in beta mode. Last I checked, it is not available in India.

The Viva Technology conference is a biannual conference that Publicis organizes in partnership with Groupe Les Echos to discuss the trends and innovations in the media industry.

Now that I am done with Publicis, the next logical step is to mimic this article for the other bigwigs in my industry: WPP, IPG, Omnicom, and DAN. Obviously, I will next explore Omnicom because in 2014 it tried to merge with Publicis and they failed. A mention of such a historic event to close this otherwise futile exercise? Seems about right. TN.


Did you find this list interesting? If yes, consider buying me books.

footnotes   [ + ]

1. Publicis was founded in 1926 in Montmartre, Paris by a 20-year old Marcel Bleustein who named it so based on the French word for advertising (Publicité) and the French sound for the number six (cis). He was born in the year 1906. (History, Publicis Groupe – https://www.publicisgroupe.com/en/the-groupe/History)
2. Slightly meta here but sources tell me there is an entity such as this under Publicis.Sapient.
3. Digitas makes an appearance in most solution hubs hinting at its diverse portfolio.

List: Airlines in India and Their Fall

fall of airlines in india

I originally wanted to write about airline livery, a mildly interesting topic that you can read up on Wikipedia now. But then Jet Airways, one of my favorite airlines in India, announced its premature death and I couldn’t control exploring the history of other airlines in India that have gone under for various specific reasons. Then Santosh Desai shared his opinions on the Jet Airways crisis last week in a TOI column, where I read mentions of defunct airlines like Damania and Archana for the first time, and I think this was called for.

Here’s a list of almost all inactive airlines in India, checked and verified a day before publishing. Most of these have been forgotten, with some names not even in my parents’ memory (the elder one was born in the 1950s) – all of which makes this a sadistically interesting exercise for me. There are a lot of reasons here why airlines went bust, mostly voluntarily to avoid further disaster, but one common factor is shortage of money due to a common reason of high fuel prices. Reminds me of a time when Germany’s Lufthansa said it is difficult to run an airline in India because of the “high cost of operations”. Jet will agree. And so will some of these four dozen and more now defunct airlines in India. But there’s a hidden reason why some of these companies embraced death. See if you can find that out.

List of Airlines in India and Why They Shut Down

This list of airline graveyard is in alphabetical order. To state the obvious, most airlines permanently stopped their services because of eventual license (Air Operator Permit aka AOP or Air Operator’s Certificate or AOC) suspension or cancellation by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or suspension by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is why I haven’t added that as a reason. I have focused on what led to the licence revocation.

Cargo and charter carriers are not included. Those that have been merged or acquired are also not added unless the merged or acquiring entity has ceased operations, except in some notable cases like Tata Airlines and Air Sahara. Suffixes and prefixes like “airlines” and “airways” are mostly not included to allow brevity, unless absolutely needed. You may have to scroll up and down because some of these airline names have direct connections.

  • Air Asiatic – Legal hassles involving chairman and managing director K C G Verghese who went on to write an autobiography[1]Thomas George And Ors. vs K.C.G. Verghese And Ors. on 7 June, 1994 – Indian Kanoon[2]Air Asiatic was the first airline to get a private air taxi operator license in India, circa 1989 (Review of “Wheels and Wings: An Autobiography by K.C.G. Verghese” – Anil Aggrawal, 2007)
  • Air Carnival – Unsafe and unreliable service, cash crunch
  • Air Costa – Cash crunch
  • Air Deccan – Acquired by industrialist Vijay Mallya and renamed as Simplifly Deccan, eventually converted to Kingfisher Red (see Kingfisher below)
  • Air Dravida – Cash crunch; shut down the same year it hoped to commence its operations after failing to create a fleet using aircraft from Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier
  • Air Mantra – Low seat occupancy
  • Air Pegasus – Cash crunch
  • Air Sahara – Renamed from Sahara Airlines in 2001 and then acquired by Jet and again rebranded as JetLite in 2007 which converted it from a “full-fare airline” brand to a “discount airline”[3]Sahara Airlines history – Jennifer Mangally, USA Today before merging it with JetKonnect in 2012 (see Kingfisher below)
  • Air Services of India – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Airways (India) Limited – Income tax issues; merged into Indian Airlines
Airways India Limited 1950
The front cover of a timetable book (circa 1950) for Airways (India) Limited, probably the least known airline in India / © David Zekria[4]http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/ail1ai.htm
  • Ambica – Low seat occupancy; legal hassles
  • Archana – Heavy financial losses due to low seat occupancy and high cost of operations (with aircraft being returned to the manufacturers against pending dues)[5]https://gyaniz.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/defunct-airlines-of-india/24 April 2011
  • Bharatair (aka Bharat Airways) – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • CityLink – Cash crunch; eventually liquidated
  • Cornecon – Unknown
  • Cosmos – Unknown
  • Damania – The Aviation Ministry’s 1995 mandate that private airlines must fly to secondary routes to be eligible for major, profitable ones; acquired by Natural Energy Processing Company (NEPC) and converted into Skyline NEPC (see NEPC below)[6]According to brand strategist Harish Bijoor, Damania was the first to utilize the ministry’s permission to serve alcohol on board its flights, a welcome move allegedly jinxed by the arrival of low-cost carriers (LCC) like Kingfisher, IndiGo, and SpiceJet in the mid-2000s. (The Hindu Business Line, 23 February 2011)
  • Darbhanga – Gradual fall of the Darbhanga dynasty of Bihar further triggered by the death of its Maharaja Kameshwar Singh in 1962; DGCA cancelled its licence and one of its fleet (a VIP liner, possibly a Douglas) was taken by the Indian Air Force (IAF)[7]In December 2018, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted about the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Darbhanga Airport.
  • Deccan – Operation Polo which resulted in the annexation of the Hyderabad state from the Nizam in 1948, which, in turn, led to its changing hands from the Hyderabad government and Nizam State Railways to the Government of India; one of the eight pre-Independent domestic airlines to be merged and converted into Indian Airlines under the Air Corporations Act (see below)[8]In 1953, eight pre-Independent private airlines – Deccan, Airways (India) Limited, Bharat, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga, Indian National Airways, Tata, and Air Services of India – were nationalized and merged and converted into Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC), which later became Air India after its domestic and international fleet joined hands until the early 1990s when the national monopoly of the skies changed[9]Deccan was the first airline of south India, bankrolled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, taking cues from the Tatas.(The plane that made India fly – Muthiah, The Hindu, 20 November 2006)
  • East-West – Murder of managing director Thakiyudeen Wahid which added fuel to its financial problems[10]East-West was known for its alleged ties with underworld mobster Dawood Ibrahim. “I gave the instructions for Wahid’s killing”, underworld don and Ibrahim’s arch nemesis Chhota Rajan said in an interview with India Today’s Special Correspondent Harinder Baweja, 31 January 1996
  • Goa Way – Unknown[11]Dutch aviation enthusiast and photographer Ruud Leeuw mentions something about a deal between Lufthansa Cityline and Goa Way Aviation falling through. (20 May 2004)[12]Goa Way was branded as “India’s holiday airline”
  • Gujarat Airways – Intense competition[13](Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf)
  • Himalayan Aviation – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Huns Air – Possible heavy competition from Pushpaka Aviation and Air India[14]“Pushpaka Aviation gives tough competition to Air-India” – Chander Uday Singh, India Today, 15 April 1981; a zero-casualty accident during landing of its major flight – a Vickers Viscount 768D – at Vijayawada Airport in Andhra Pradesh on 28 August 1980 which reportedly damaged the aircraft beyond repair[15]https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19800828-0; possible consequent financial issues
  • Indian (formerly Indian Airlines) – Merged into Air India after the formation of Air India Limited (erstwhile National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL)) in 2007; its subsidiary Air Alliance was also merged into Air India along with the latter’s Express brand, all of which are now operational[16]“Why one large airline makes economic sense” – Bhanoji Rao, The Hindu Business Line, 30 June 2005
  • Indian National Airways – (Pretty successful bout till its) nationalization and merger into Indian Airlines[17]Indian National Airways was the second private airline to start operations in India (circa 1933), albeit using a government contract, after Tata Airlines. Incidentally, Indian State Air Service was the first, operating in the Karachi-Calcutta route as early as 1929.
  • Indian Overseas (formerly Mistri Airways) – Cash crunch
  • Indian State Air Service – Unknown; possible government voluntary withdrawal
  • Indian Transcontinental – Unknown[18]During its prime, Indian Transcontinental Airways partnered with Imperial Airways (now British Airways).
  • Indus – Cash crunch; inability to obtain safety-critical Bombardier aircraft parts from General Electric’s Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS)
  • Irrawaddy Flotilla & Airways – Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942 (during World war II) forced the company’s personnel to destroy some of its own fleet (housed in Pazundaung (now in Myanmar)), the rest of which were automatically handed over to the Burmese government in 1948; supposedly the fleet owned by its Chennai division never saw a resurrection as the company went into voluntary liquidation two years later[19]Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (1865 – 1950) by the Maritime Archives & Library – The National Archives of the UK, October 2008 (pdf)
  • Jagson – License lapsed without a single regional flight operating between 2009 and 2010[20]Its charter service apparently is still operational between New Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Jamair – Cash crunch, legal issues, labor problems, increasing competition, and shrinking fleet[21]Jamair – Wikipedia (unreferenced and unverified)
  • Jet – Cash crunch; lack of trust by lenders (mainly SBI)[22]Jet’s subsidiaries JetLite and JetKonnect were discontinued in 2012 and 2014 respectively. As it happens, the former was merged into JetKonnect.
  • Jupiter – Possible competition by national carriers; lack of profitable routes
  • Kalinga – Merged into Indian Airlines
  • Kingfisher (+Kingfisher Red) – Massive financial losses and eventual cash crunch, probably a precursor to Mallya’s fraudulent activities
  • MDLR – Cash crunch due to the 2007-2008 financial crisis and a rapid rise in fuel prices; tax irregularities which resulted in convictions of several employees; failed to give lease payments to British Aerospace (BA) for its aircraft; founder Gopal Kanda was arrested for abetment of an employee’s (Geetika Sharma) suicide with charges later dropped by the Delhi High Court; eventually became a part of Emirates in 2010[23]MDLR stands for Murli Dhar Lakh Ram (Group); was known for its high number of female employees
  • Mesco – License withdrawal by DGCA probably by request in 2001; first private helicopter charter company (air taxi) in India and still active in charters and maintenance work
  • ModiLuft – Mounting tensions with its technical partner, Germany’s Lufthansa; was set to make a comeback as Royal Airways through a different owner[24](Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf); its permit was eventually bought and converted into SpiceJet by entrepreneur Ajay Singh
  • NEPC – DGCA’s policy of mandatory ACAS-II/TCAS-II fitments and cash crunch; eventually the IATA suspended it and its subsidiary (Skyline NEPC) for non-payment of dues[25]NEPC Airlines, Skyline Grounded – K Giriprakash, Business Standard, 11 July 1997
  • Orient – Base transfer from Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) to Karachi, Pakistan; requisition by the Pakistan government post Partition of India; in 1955 was merged with the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)
  • Paramount – Legal tussle with lessors of their liners manufactured by Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer; fleet grounding; multiple attempts to restart operations using Airbus and Bombardier aircraft in 2010, and then in 2013, did not materialize as lenders (SBI, again, among others) took its promoters to court (and DGCA) for pending dues and eventually seized the fleet
  • Premier (aka Easy Air) – Founder Umapathy Pinghapani’s arrest[26]Pinghapani, who promoted Premier Airways and its Easy Air brand from the United States, was arrested after he withheld the flying licence of a pilot (M Bhaskar) he had hired. (Anirban Chowdhury, The Economic Times, 4 March 2016); starting trouble; ministry’s no-objection certificate (NOC), which it gathered in 2014 expired a year later even before it could fly even a single flight
  • Pushpaka Aviation – Financial fallout with Air India, which Pushpaka was an associate of in running international flights between Mumbai and the Persian Gulf in the early 1980s; India Today reported a suspicious revocation of the contract between the parties including DGCA in late June 1983
  • RajAir (formerly Raj Airways) – Non-viability possibly due to high cost of fuel and competition[27]It began as Raj Airways in 1993 and shut down in less than a year before briefly reemerging as RajAir in 1995. (airlinehistory.co.uk, 29 July 2018)
  • Royal Star – Unknown
  • Safari – Government’s “very anti-private sector” reluctance to issue permits other than for 24-hour non-scheduled ones, as complained by founder and India’s “Air Commodore” Vijaypat Singhania; one of the first private aircraft operators in India in the 1970s[28]Action man Vijaypat – Archana Chaudhary, The Hindu Business Line, 24 July 2000[29]Safari is still known among aviation enthusiasts for its maintained fleet of three Douglas Dakotas (DC-3)
  • Sahara – Rebranded as Air Sahara; later acquired by Jet, rebranded as JetLite, and then merged with JetKonnect (see Air Sahara and Kingfisher above)
  • SGS (aka Air SGS) – Never took off despite a NOC from the ministry in 2016[30]SGS stands for Subhaash Gulaati Group
  • SpanAir – Grounded in 2014 due to safety violations both inside the cabin and on the ground; it still runs charter services
  • Svarima – Unknown
  • Tata (aka Tata Air Services) – Became a public limited company post Independence and was thus registered as Air India; while Air India International Limited catered to international flights, Air India (along with Indian Airlines) flew flights domestically as NACIL/Air India Limited; currently operating all flights under the single brand name of Air India[31]Air India is the first and the only Star Alliance member from India. (Air India to join Star Alliance – Cuckoo Paul, Air Transport World, 25 June 2014)[32]Tata now promotes Vistara as a domestic airline in India in partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and AirAsia India along with AirAsia Berhad.
  • TAIP – Annexation of Goa in 1961; last of the fleet (Douglas DC-4), which escaped bombing by the Indian Armed Forces (IAF), was flown to Lisbon and never came back[33]TAIP stands for the Portuguese transliteration of Air Transport of Portuguese India
  • UBAir (UB Airlines) – Unknown or not launched[34]FDI in aviation: No flights of fancy, yet – Ashwini Phadnis, The Hindu Business Line, 25 October 2004; possible working name for United Breweries (UB) Group’s Kingfisher Airlines
  • Vayudoot – Money bleeding due to low seat occupancy; was run by the government
  • VIF – Inability to scale up with its single Dornier aircraft
  • Vijay – Unknown
  • Zoom Air – License suspension by DGCA over safety concerns in 2018; attempts to revive fell through in 2019.

That’s a interesting history of airlines in India, isn’t it?

A lot of these players entered the commercial aviation market following the Indian government’s Open Sky policy in 1992, but soon began to bite the dust due to “high cost of operations”, a reason given out by many modern, private players both inside and outside India. Really shows how many businesses aspired to fly high in the world of civil aviation in India and failed. And the small number of airlines active today (GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara, AirAsia, TruJet, and Air India (Express, Alliance)) is not that encouraging either.

The fact that Jet is trying to revive itself makes me a hopeful man this otherwise dull pre-election-day Sunday. TN.

footnotes   [ + ]

1. Thomas George And Ors. vs K.C.G. Verghese And Ors. on 7 June, 1994 – Indian Kanoon
2. Air Asiatic was the first airline to get a private air taxi operator license in India, circa 1989 (Review of “Wheels and Wings: An Autobiography by K.C.G. Verghese” – Anil Aggrawal, 2007)
3. Sahara Airlines history – Jennifer Mangally, USA Today
4. http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/ail1ai.htm
5. https://gyaniz.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/defunct-airlines-of-india/24 April 2011
6. According to brand strategist Harish Bijoor, Damania was the first to utilize the ministry’s permission to serve alcohol on board its flights, a welcome move allegedly jinxed by the arrival of low-cost carriers (LCC) like Kingfisher, IndiGo, and SpiceJet in the mid-2000s. (The Hindu Business Line, 23 February 2011)
7. In December 2018, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted about the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Darbhanga Airport.
8. In 1953, eight pre-Independent private airlines – Deccan, Airways (India) Limited, Bharat, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga, Indian National Airways, Tata, and Air Services of India – were nationalized and merged and converted into Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC), which later became Air India after its domestic and international fleet joined hands until the early 1990s when the national monopoly of the skies changed
9. Deccan was the first airline of south India, bankrolled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, taking cues from the Tatas.(The plane that made India fly – Muthiah, The Hindu, 20 November 2006)
10. East-West was known for its alleged ties with underworld mobster Dawood Ibrahim. “I gave the instructions for Wahid’s killing”, underworld don and Ibrahim’s arch nemesis Chhota Rajan said in an interview with India Today’s Special Correspondent Harinder Baweja, 31 January 1996
11. Dutch aviation enthusiast and photographer Ruud Leeuw mentions something about a deal between Lufthansa Cityline and Goa Way Aviation falling through. (20 May 2004)
12. Goa Way was branded as “India’s holiday airline”
13, 24. (Airlines That Went Bust – Ranju Sarkar, Business Standard (pdf)
14. “Pushpaka Aviation gives tough competition to Air-India” – Chander Uday Singh, India Today, 15 April 1981
15. https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19800828-0
16. “Why one large airline makes economic sense” – Bhanoji Rao, The Hindu Business Line, 30 June 2005
17. Indian National Airways was the second private airline to start operations in India (circa 1933), albeit using a government contract, after Tata Airlines. Incidentally, Indian State Air Service was the first, operating in the Karachi-Calcutta route as early as 1929.
18. During its prime, Indian Transcontinental Airways partnered with Imperial Airways (now British Airways).
19. Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (1865 – 1950) by the Maritime Archives & Library – The National Archives of the UK, October 2008 (pdf)
20. Its charter service apparently is still operational between New Delhi and Mumbai.
21. Jamair – Wikipedia (unreferenced and unverified)
22. Jet’s subsidiaries JetLite and JetKonnect were discontinued in 2012 and 2014 respectively. As it happens, the former was merged into JetKonnect.
23. MDLR stands for Murli Dhar Lakh Ram (Group); was known for its high number of female employees
25. NEPC Airlines, Skyline Grounded – K Giriprakash, Business Standard, 11 July 1997
26. Pinghapani, who promoted Premier Airways and its Easy Air brand from the United States, was arrested after he withheld the flying licence of a pilot (M Bhaskar) he had hired. (Anirban Chowdhury, The Economic Times, 4 March 2016)
27. It began as Raj Airways in 1993 and shut down in less than a year before briefly reemerging as RajAir in 1995. (airlinehistory.co.uk, 29 July 2018)
28. Action man Vijaypat – Archana Chaudhary, The Hindu Business Line, 24 July 2000
29. Safari is still known among aviation enthusiasts for its maintained fleet of three Douglas Dakotas (DC-3)
30. SGS stands for Subhaash Gulaati Group
31. Air India is the first and the only Star Alliance member from India. (Air India to join Star Alliance – Cuckoo Paul, Air Transport World, 25 June 2014)
32. Tata now promotes Vistara as a domestic airline in India in partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and AirAsia India along with AirAsia Berhad.
33. TAIP stands for the Portuguese transliteration of Air Transport of Portuguese India
34. FDI in aviation: No flights of fancy, yet – Ashwini Phadnis, The Hindu Business Line, 25 October 2004