Can James Bond resurrect Indian Railways?

Life works in mysterious ways. I wasn’t surprised that Mayawati sends a chopper to Mumbai to get her sandals. I wasn’t even surprised that Mayawati has chosen to shoot the messenger and called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange deranged after a cable branded her a “paranoid dictator”. These things happen in India and we get used to it. But James Bond as the brand ambassador for Indian Railways, that too for free?

Now to set the record straight, I don’t think James Bond comes from Mars. Bond is a carefully crafted and protected brand which has an immediate brand recall. If Bond was associated with a top tier Indian brand, it would have been just fine. But Indian Railways?

Indian Railways doesn’t need an ambassador at all, not even Rakhi Sawant. There is only one Indian Railways, which runs more than 10,000 trains across India. There is no competition. There is no need for an image makeover and there is absolutely no need for a brand ambassador.

But if it comes free, I will take it.

Here’s the discussion (dramatized) between James Bond filmmakers (JBFM) and Indian Railways (IR):

JBFM : We want to shoot parts of James Bond’s next film Bond 23 in India and some of the shots would be on Indian trains and tracks.

IR : Hmmn… Ok

JBFM : And we need your permission, for it.

IR: Of course. That’s what we are here for. We are happy to help her Majesty in any way we can.

JBFM : Her majesty? Never mind.

JBFM : Is there any paperwork involved?

IR : Very minimal. Trust me. You can speak to my secretary and he will take care of all that. (wink, wink)

IR : Just one condition from us. Your James Bond (Daniel Craig) should do an ad for Indian Railways.

JBFM : You can’t be serious.

IR : Sir, I will never joke with her Majesty’s men, would I?

And that was that. There is no reason for the Bond film makers to budge, yet they did. They could as well shoot it in Pakistan and Bangladesh and nobody would have found out. But let’s admit that Indian Railways top brass have some cool negotiation skills. May be they should have sent to deal with Anna Hazare’s team in August.

Yet another interesting tidbit is the Bond film makers did not get permission to shoot on train rooftops, sighting security and image concerns.

“The ministry raised concerns because travelling on train rooftops is illegal. We didn’t want the global community to have an unrealistic picture of the Indian Railways” (WSJ Blog)

Okay. The global community watched Slumdog Millionaire and the so called unrealistic picture is safely imprinted in global community’s minds. If I start counting the Indian movies with train rooftop scenes, I would run out of numbers.

Now get this.

The possible tagline for James Bond’s ad would be this :

The name’s Bond, James Bond. But Indian Railways is stronger than James Bond!”

Well how about this :

The name’s Railways, Indian Railways

Pierce Brosnan has the last laugh after all.

Now this is a moot point, but what the heck, I will do it anyway :  Do you think James will bring an image makeover for Indian Railways? Or do you think Rakhi Sawant would have been better?

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