You may know the man in the picture and the tagline “asli masale sach sach” would probably ring a bell too. While most recognise the jingles and the man behind them, many still don’t know the incredible story that made him the pioneer that he is.
This is a tale of rags to riches, but in this case, money was no driving force, but merely the by-product of honest work and dedication. It all started in 1923, with a boy named Mahashay Dharampal Gulati who lived in Sialkot, which falls in present-day Pakistan. He dropped out of school at the age of 10 and tried his hand in every other business, from rice trading to selling henna, but nothing worked out.
Gulati then decided to help his father run their spice shop, Mahashian di Hatti. Unfortunately, due to the chaos of the partition, he and his family had to migrate to Amritsar and live in a refugee camp. Gulati chose to move to Delhi and bought a tonga, trying to provide the best for his family, but he soon realised that this wasn’t the way to go about it.
🌱 A Fresh Start
In 1959, he decided to restart his father’s business, Mahashian di Hatti, which we all know today as MDH. Most of their competitors indulged in malpractices such as adulteration and the sale of impure spices in order to reduce their costs. But Gulati stuck to their honest way of selling with zero adulteration and no use of artificial colours, even though he wasn’t earning high profits.
He poured his heart and soul into the venture and single-handedly led the brand to great heights. Gulati monitored every little process himself, be it grinding, packaging or transportation. His commitment to providing people with pure, quality spices eventually paid off, as people realised the supreme quality of his products. The demand for MDH shot up soon and it became a popular brand in Delhi.
🏗️ Building The Brand
Gulati’s dreams were too big for just one city. He realised that he needed to make it a popular brand and that more people should know about it. He first decided to put his own face on the packaging, which still remains an integral part of the identity of MDH products.
Gulati then went ahead with traditional advertisements and promoted his products for the first time in a vernacular newspaper called Pratap. For four long decades, he made cameos in MDH’s ads and became an iconic part of the brand, whom most refer to as the MDH Uncle. He proved that age is truly just a number by shooting an ad for MDH at the age of 97.
The brand that took its first steps in Delhi now exports its products to more than 100 countries. Even after Gulati’s passing, his legacy and work ethic will remain an inspiration for many young entrepreneurs.