Curry chain uses Gandhi image to peddle meat
Gandhi great-grandson protests Australian firm’s ‘lack of taste’
MUMBAI, JUNE 17: From Ganesha to Gandhi. You may think that India has come a long way. Think again. It is not the debate between tradition and modernity. It’s the turn of Mahatma Gandhi to be kitsch-ified.
An Australian fastfood chain, calling itself Handi Ghandi, is using the image of a grinning Mahatma holding out a cardboard carton, to hawk their ‘‘delicious Indian takeaway’’.
The firm’s website, www.handighandi.com, says it is a New South Wales-based company that serves Indian and associated cuisine at affordable costs and adds that their ‘‘original concept’’ offers them ‘‘limitless potential’’ in the market.
Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of the Father of the Nation, is appalled, calling it an exercise in poor taste and an attempt to garner cheap publicity.
‘‘I’ve nothing against meat products,’’ he says. ‘‘But to use bapu’s image alongside is just not done.’’
Tushar Gandhi has shot off letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and to the ministries of law and external affairs.
‘‘They’re a foreign firm, I can’t touch them,’’ Gandhi says. But as the image of the Mahatma is protected as a national emblem, the government ought to step in, he contends.
Attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful.
The site—its menu includes various beef and chicken curries, chana masala, chutneys and lassis—also has a ‘‘Handi Ghandi’’ jingle, whose lead singer, says Gandhi, attempts to ape Ben Kingsley’s style blended with a mature Asian voice. There are slogans too: ‘‘In a hurry, grab a curry.’’
Those wishing to open a Handi Ghandi franchise—apparently, the company is now arriving in the big cities from interior Australia—will have to invest between Australian $ 2,30,000 and $ 3,00,000 as an initial franchise fee, plus complete store fittings, training, opening promotion and back-end systems for sales and accounting.
Not the first time
It’s not the first time somebody thought of turning Gandhi into a salesman. Some time last year, an American magazine did a feature on a new fitness regime to ‘‘beat the wimp’’. It featured muscular men punching and kicking a dummy, which bore a striking resemblance to the Mahatma.
After a furore, the magazine apologised, but not before stating that readers simply did not share their humour.
- KAVITHA IYER [Posted online: Saturday, June 18, 2005 at 0145 hours IST]