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Corporate Jan 20, 2012

The story of Paul Simon, Amitabh Bachchan, Balki and Kodachrome

By Anant Rangaswami

In the age before brands made their way commercially into songs and movies, they had to find reason to be there - they had to inspire the songwriters and scriptwriters. And for the leading musicians of the day to write about a brand, the brand necessarily had to be a part of the popular culture of the day.

So it's time to reflect when an iconic brand which starred in the name of a song that made it to the Billboard charts and performed by one of the most enduring musical teams is no longer producing the very product that it built it's name on.

"Running low on cash and unable to attract buyers for its assets, Eastman Kodak Co put itself into bankruptcy court, where it hopes to slash what it owes retirees and force much bigger technology companies to pay to use its patents. Kodak's move, which came early Thursday morning, sets up a highly uncertain process that, if successful, will allow it to emerge in a year or two as a smaller company with fewer employees and perhaps very little to do with the photography business, on which it built its name", writes the Wall Street Journal.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel couldn't do without their Kodachrome, considering how Kodachrome changed the way the word looked thanks to the film.

Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colours.AFP

Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colours
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away...

You can watch the video of the song here

This song was the first time I experienced a brand featuring in entertainment so strongly. There were others, especially in American movies, which one saw, such as airline brands and alcohol brands which were in the movies in an era before product placement as a phrase made an entry into popular jargon - but none of them compared with, or impacted, as much as Kodachrome.

In May 2010, one truly understood how iconic this brand was. Reproduced below is a part of an e-mail I received from a friend.

"As a part of this story the two man NGT film crew will follow Steve McCurry in his pursuit in India to achieve the best of last 36 Kodachrome images in Mumbai, India.

Steve McCurry would like to shoot with Mr. Amitabh Bachhan and Mrs. Aishwarya Rai-Bachhan for this historic event with National Geographic Television.

Brief Synopsis:

SERIES: NAT GEO'S MOST AMAZING PHOTOS
An adventure Travel Series

Episode #212 LAST ROLL OF KODACHROME

It's the end of an era and photographer Steve McCurry has a challenge. Kodak has given him the very last roll of 35mm Kodachrome film to use on assignment for National Geographic magazine. That's 36 historic frames and they'd better be good because there are no second chances."

I forwarded this mail to R Balki of Lowe, and Balki forwarded it to Amitabh Bachchan, and the rest is history, and Steve McCurry duly made his way to India with the last roll of Kodachrome.

He came, he shot and he conquered. You can see the magic of Kodachrome and Steve McCurry here.

Mama didn't take away the Kodachrome, technology did - but you cannot take away the Kodachrome that's in my imagination.

by Anant Rangaswami

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