Friday, June 27, 2014
If you had been to Chennai about 8 to 10 years ago, you would have been struck by the number of places carrying this man's advertisements. There was hardly a wall in the city that did not have the words "P. James Magic Show 9841072671" written on it, maybe several times over. Every part of the city carried these black letters, sprayed or painted on to the walls with a black-oxide-and-Fevicol mixture, which keeps the letters stuck on the walls for more than a couple of monsoons. The city's residents probably did not take notice of them too much, but for a few years, they were the one thing about Chennai most visitors were intrigued by, thanks to their omnipresence.
James is a stage name. The man's real name is V. Kennedy; he took his father's - or was it his grandfather's? - name and made it his brand, one that is so ubiquitous that it featured as a question on one the editions of the Landmark Quiz. Kennedy claims that it took him almost 14 years of painting walls to achieve the kind of brand recognition that he has now.
And yet, I have not come across anyone who has seen a P. James performance. Some speculate that the man has passed on, and it is the junior who runs the show these days. The advertisements also appear to have become thinned down. Maybe there is some truth to it, after all. Like Phantom in the comic strip, P.James could also be immortal!