As Air India begins its new chapter, here's a look at how its iconic mascot 'Maharajah' came into being

Oct 11, 2021

By: Karuna Sharma

​One of India’s earliest mascots, Air India’s Maharajah, came into being in 1946

It has held a special place in our hearts since then. Now that the Tata Group is taking over Air India, Maharajah’s glory might be retrieved soon!

Credit: Air-India

First apperance:

Dressed in his regal garb, the Maharajah of mascots first made his appearance on an in-flight memo pad in the 1940s.

Credit: Air-India

Brains behind the mascot:

The royal mascot was created by its Commercial Director SK (Bobby) Kooka and sketched by Umesh Rao, an artist at J Walter Thompson. Kooka was responsible for shaping Maharajah's personality, and building the brand of Air India.

Credit: Air-India

Kooka once said, “We can call him the Maharajah for want of a better description.

But his blood isn’t blue. He may look like royalty, but he isn’t royal. He is capable of entertaining the Queen of England and splitting a beer with her butler."

Credit: Air-India

The Maharajah came dressed in various garbs, but his trademark moustache remained constant.

With or without his red outfit, he would always exude hospitality with warmth, graciousness and humility.

Credit: Air-India

The mascot was used by Air India to introduce new flight routes and set itself apart from its competitors.

The national air carrier took its mascot to different tourist spots across the world.

Credit: Air-India

He soon became a part of popular culture.

He was proudly displayed in middle-class homes.

Credit: Air-India

Around 2015, the mascot was given a modern look.

After adorning a mix of red and yellow ensemble and the typical Indian style turban for decades, he was seen in a suit, jeans and sneakers.

Credit: Air-India

Whether the Maharajah will return in its old avatar or with a complete modern look, only time will tell.

However, the Maharajah of mascots will always be immortal and discussed in brainstorming sessions for many years to come.

Credit: Air-India

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