Some of Wadia’s most well-known posters are those advertising flights to Switzerland and Germany, but none are as famous and talked about as the Paris poster. It is vibrant, bold and ahead of its time, with the style of lettering inspired by cabaret dancers at the Crazy Horse Club in Paris. Originally, the colourful, curvaceous legs of the letter ‘I’ were dotted by the Maharajah’s head- a great example of the tongue-in-cheek humour characteristic of Wadia’s posters. While it won her first prize at the prestigious Commercial Artist’s Guild awards, the cheeky feature of the poster did not go down well with the Indian Parliament. Says Wadia about Paris, “This is an insult to the nation, they said. They wanted it taken down,” (Salil Deshpande, “I once flirted with a Maharajah”, Condé Nast Traveller, Condé Nast, Mumbai, 2018). Even J. R. D. Tata asked her to "tone it down" she says, "J. R. D asked me to tone the imagery down, the original design was even more risqué..." (Nargis Wadia, 2018)
Air India made its first international flight in 1948. The 5,000-mile journey from Mumbai to London made by the new Princess Malabar aircraft ushered in an unprecedented era of international air travel for India. Under the leadership of commercial director Bobby Kooka, the Air India in-house art studio took on the responsibility of promoting the luxurious hospitality of Air India across the country, and the world – their mascot, the world famous ‘Maharaja’, went on to create some of the best promotional material in the field at the time, and cemented the Maharaja’s place as the pioneer of luxury air travel in India, and a universal symbol of indulgence and adventure.
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