Lead Story

Clear and present danger

Wheeled by aggressive discounts, Flipkart's business model is now in question as it buys sales with hard cash

In a comic sequence in Vishal Bharadwaj’s recently released movie Haider, actor Shahid Kapur, who plays the titular role, illustrates the meaning of the old Yiddish word chutzpah with an example. Haider narrates the story of a man who robs a bank and has the gall to go up to the cashier and ask her to open an account for him to deposit the stolen loot. “That, my friends, is chutzpah,” he says. Throughout the movie, Kapur’s character uses the word (albeit pronounced wrongly to closely resemble a Hindi swear word) to express his displeasure against the imposition of AFSPA in the valley and vent his frustration at his inability to find his father. Chutzpah soon became an internet sensation, best used by customers all over social media to describe the debacle that was Flipkart’s The Big Billion Day Sale. Angry consumers complained of site crashes, deals going out of stock seconds after the sale went live, orders disappearing from shopping carts and cancellation of orders after payment. “In its hurry to be one-up on Amazon, I think Flipkart bit off more than it could chew and this has hurt its brand very badly,” says Harminder Sahni, managing director of retail consultancy firm Wazir Advisors. Flipkart declined to participate in the story.