A great photo by itself does not make a great cover. Nor does a headline. It’s when they come together in a perfect balance of idea, image and typography that a cover good enough to launch a thousand subscriptions is born. Dayanita zooms in on what she thinks are Outlook’s 15 best covers.
|1995 Where this blood-splattered photo and typewriter font meet, a crime thriller begins. Like the cover of an action film DVD, it conveys suspense and urgency.||1996 A photograph memorable for its casual approach to a national leader makes for a surprising cover. The double cutouts playfully enhance the ‘encore’ effect.||1997 An iconic photograph presents the familiar Tricolour in an unfamiliar way. The contrast with the man in the frame underscores the headline’s ‘Little Men’.|
|1998 The typographical cover ironically overturns the celebratory sense of the word ‘shortlisted’ by using it to bunch poll candidates with grimy records.||1999 Elegance of the simple cover sets off the gravity of the contributors named on it. The key is the allusion to The Idea of India, Sunil Khilnani’s classic.||2000 Clinton in an achkan against the iconic Taj Mahal could have become full-on kitsch. But by moonlight, it adds to the drama, making it a cover that lingers.|
|2001 The green cover is unusual for a news magazine, as is the idea of using a boldly illustrated Pervez Musharraf. The little boy denotes the scale of things.||2002 Vibrant Mumbai dead? The paradoxical idea is accentuated by a seductive
photograph that would make a telling book cover for a megastory.
|2003 ‘Democracy’—a jaded word turns explosive when paired with ‘whore’. Complemented by a provocative photograph,
this scathing quote piques curiosity.
|2004 Brilliant use of limited material: a simple archival photograph used obituary-like, and placed in context by a picture of the dead Mahatma. A designer’s cover, totally.||2005 The illustration, with its Last Supper analogy, dominates, as the colours set the tone for this collector’s issue. Contributors mentioned are names one would always want to read.||2006 One can imagine this bold red cover with a confident political stand to match, as a poster of appeal plastered everywhere. Simple layout sans distracting elements.|
|2007 The photograph anchors the cover. Shot from an ant’s point of view, as Musharraf towers over, the typography echoes what the words allude to.||2008 ‘Azadi for India’—provocative and baffling words stand out against an atypical snapshot from the burning Valley as men rally on, as if walking through fire.||2009 Compelling portrait capturing Indira Gandhi in a vulnerable and reflective, yet powerful mood. Makes the reader pause and reflect: ‘Devi or Demon’?|
|2010 Shocking words in red, symbolising blood, and black, set against a b/w shot, while ‘Ayodhya’ becomes part of the structure itself. Cuts to the bone.|