Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Maneka Gandhi DCM towel Ad, 1974

It seems I and Mr. Bawaseer Kumar from Aonla are the only two people interested in this - Maneka Gandhi's Towel Ad. Bawaseer Kumar's interest is driven by curiosity about the colorful history of his Parliamentary representative (But I suspect his is a closet Nehru-Gandhi Clan hater just looking for ammunition - the proof, the 'dekha mainay kaha tha these Nehru/Gandhi's are sickular people' kind of proof). My interest, I am just vella. It is either all that or that nobody reads or rather cares for India Today anymore. The infamous 'deleted from history' ad was recently re-published in December 26, 2011, 'Makers & Breakers of Modern India' special issue of the magazine.

Maneka Gandhi in DCM's 'Towels so good you want to wear them' campaign, 1973.
Note with the ad reads: "This was justly Maneka Gandhi's, 22, first claim to fame. As an aspiring model, she had  signed up with DCM to model for their entire campaign of towels that were launched in 1973. But her success on the modelling scene was short-lived. When she became engaged to Sanjay, the advertising agency MCM was summarily commanded to withdraw the campaign and clam up all possible remaining records of it."

The story is told by Vinod Mehta in 'The Sanjay story: from Anand Bhavan to Amethi' (1978).

"Beginning in 1974 Miss Anand was plasterred all over Delhi. 'A lanky, vivacious college beauty queen' (crowned 'Miss Sri Ram College' in '73). she had recently taken to modelling with great sucess. Dressed scantily in a towel she was seen on billboards and press ads promoting Delhi Cloth Mills."

On July 28, 1974, MCM, the agency behind the ad campaign, was called up by Maneka's father Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand who demanded all pictures and transparencies of her daughter be returned. The press was told not to run the Ad anymore. On July 29, a press release declared Sanjay's engagement to an 18 year old girl named Maneka who was learning German at JNU and working as a journalist for a weekly called 'Delhi Dateline'.

The image barely seems as scandalous as one's imagination would have you believe. It was censored and cleaned up after all.  Well, that indeed is the true nature of censorship. It lets the imagination run wild.



  1. Very true what you said about the true nature of censorship.Btw, I vaguely remember Maneka wrapped in a white towel too..a friend had a cut-out of the ad, a legacy from an uncle he said! My memory could be mistaken though!

    Enjoy reading your posts :)

    vidya nayak

  2. The campaign ran for a couple of months...there must have been more images of it. So you might be remembering correct. Now that I know what it looks like. I will try to find a copy.

  3. If I am not mistaken, I vaguely remember coming across this ad in an old magazine. But never did it strike me that the lady was Maneka Gandhi herself. Great find!

  4. I too have that feeling. I will be checking my stash to look for it.

  5. I remember seeing posters by DCM featuring Maneka Gandhi pasted on walls all over Delhi on my way to school by bus in the early 70's. The poster showed a keyhole and within the outline of the keyhole was a woman (Maneka) wrapped in a towel. This was well before she became known as Sanjay Gandhi's fiancee, after which event all these posters disappeared off the walls.


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