India’s Sensational Splash

Sourced from ET, Koffee with Lunel – the Liril Girl

Oh! You’re that girl right. We thought you died’ the loud voice of a VIP, as he walked into the aircraft made everyone look at the hostess. Karen was so used to this. She tilted her head, let out a warm smile: ‘this way to your seat, sir’. Karen and the crew were ready for the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that would follow.

It began 10 years ago on a busy afternoon in 1974 when Karen’s model contact friend, Naju Karani breezed in: ‘You’re coming with me to Khandala as a back up model!’ It was the beginning of a sensational splash.

HUL roped in Alyque Padamsee to launch a new lime green soap on the freshness platform. An earlier blue version which likened freshness to mountain breeze bombed in trials. He then picked up an interesting insight from a study with housewives: ‘The daily bath was the only 10 mins of free time she spent dreaming about her favorite Bollywood star’

And to make it real he came up with a metaphor for the bathroom shower – a waterfall.

Karen Lunel splashed & danced under the freezing waterfalls of Khandala and Pambar in Kodai. Vanraj Bhatia’s lilting jingle and Kailash Surendranth’s camera did the rest.

‘Twas the year of Sholay but the crowds in the theaters were whistling & clapping when the Liril girl came on the screen. It was nothing like India had seen before!

Liril launched many faces but none matched Karen’s freshness and what she did for the brand.  


You must read this fantastic interview with Karen Lunel done by ET more than a decade go. She married a Tibetan and is happily settled in New Zealand with her family! This in itself is a fantastic story on how ET tracked her down through some You tube messages.

Lots of interesting tid-bits and back stories there – on how the crew kept making her sip brandy to keep her warm – and about the serious accident that sparked off her death rumours!

Also this Business Standard piece

And here’s the 1985 version of the film that has had more views than Mehbooba-O-Mehbooba !

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