Air-India’s Maharaja: Advertising Gone Rogue
    Air-India’s Maharaja: Advertising Gone Rogue

This exhibition highlights the ingenuity and impact of Air-India's Maharaja mascot and the iconic posters the company produced during the jet set era.

About Poster House and the exhibition


Poster House is the first museum in the United States dedicated to the history and design of posters. After opening in New York City in 2019, the museum has shown posters from all over the world, dating from the late 1800s to contemporary use. On September 9, 2022, Poster House is delighted to open the exhibition Air India's Maharaja: Advertising Gone Rogue, which will remain on view through February 12, 2023.

Featuring posters from the jet set era between 1946-1972, Air India's Maharaja showcases travel posters centering the beloved Air India mascot, The Maharaja, alias "The Rogue."

Conceived in 1946 by Bobby Kooka and illustrated by Umesh Rao, the Maharaja was initially designed for an inflight memo pad. Characterized by his oversized mustache, striped turban, corpulent belly, and aquiline nose, the mascot would go on to become the face of the airline and propel the company to the forefront of advertising genius in the mid-20th century, largely due to the in-house art studio Air India founded while they also commissioned international artists to depict the Maharaja in hundreds of humorous scenarios.

Despite the complaints of ill-humored politicians, the Maharaja and his cutting-edge design earned the company a myriad of advertising awards and a loyal legion of fans. While the Maharaja remains Air-India’s mascot to this day, he is most fondly remembered throughout the world for his role in India’s golden age of advertising.

Hunter College design students with Prof Deepsikha Chatterjee visiting the poster house exhibit of Air India posters. They listended to Julia Knight talking about posters, and details about Bobby Kooka, Air India, and their poster design process. Sometimes relevant, sometimes stereotypical, sometimes cheeky, but always fun, these Air India posters are a fabulous view into post colonial India from 1950s to 1970s.

Photos - September 10, 2022