Partnerships.


When I got married and moved to Bangalore my 70-year-old landlord and his 65-year-old wife were waiting for us at the bungalow we hired to bless us. My one week old wife was happy that a couple who were married for over 40 years are blessing us.

Little we knew that the secret they were about to share would change our lives. The couple asked us “who’s decision was it to move to Bangalore?” I gleamingly said 50:50 pointing both of us. The couple took us aside and shared the secret: “ Partnership is not about being 50:50, it’s to know when to be 30 and when to be 70.”

Like in life even at work this principle works brilliantly. Good partnerships thrive on pushing each other and to know when to push and when not to. Like spouses, partners do not have to be politically correct or worry about emotions at that point in time.


Such successful partnerships in advertising in India are: Chax & Pops (me). Piyush Pandey & Sonal Debral, Neville & Josy Paul, Naveed & Freddy, late Mahesh & Rajiv and now Aggi & Paddy.

Forging a partnership allows you to have mutual trust and respect, I have had forged many in my career which helped me in creating iconic work apart from Chax the significant ones are with Balki at Lowe, Agnello at Lowe and leo Burnett, Arvind Sharma & Rajeev Sharma at Leo Burnett, Ramathkar started at Enterprise in 90’s and still continuing, Ganesh Mahalingam at LG. Dharen Chedda at JWT.

Partnerships are like friendships: “selfless” all the time, this allows you to accept any criticism or ideas with equal enthusiasm. Usually we think clients, bosses, celebrity filmmakers and film and sports stars are monsters and are out to get your life like “Yamdharmaraj”, which is fortunately not true.

Ganesh Mahalingam of LG used to approve scripts on phone and sms’s which allowed us to create over 50 commercials in a calendar year to take the brand LG over 3000 corers. Look at Rajiv Rao and Varma their partnership is creating magic for their band and consumers, Piyush & Prasoon created magic on Fevicol as siblings often do. Balki’s partnership with Amitabh Bachchan  is proving to be as potent as Saleem & Javeed of 70’s.

Partnerships can also help in strange ways as Balki’s youth did to me; I had difficult time to match up to his energy levels. No wonder people say never marry a girl half your age…

Now that I stand exposed of my crimes and partners. Amen.

StorySelling.


Dream Merchants to storysellers, advertising creatives made the distance. As television gained popularity, it took little time to realize that viewers are interested in entertainment and not messages. This reinvention has its inspirations drawn from the human history, a simple insight of humans being exploited by religious preachers,  travellers, wise men and grand parents: People are interested in stories than preachings, events or even morals.

Epics like “Ramayan” or even “Panchatantra” amply demonstrate the apetite for stories. Take bedtime stories for example, when a kid does something wrong we wait till its bedtime to narrate a moral story. Good moral stories are like a homeopathic pills, while the sugar coating is entertainment and medicine is the moral. This enlightenment of short Panchatantra type moral stories lead to powerful 60 seconds stories in advertising.

Here is one such advertising story I love the most, This story was written by Agnello Dias while he was with Leo Burnett six years ago. Agnello has always been a story teller but he seldom used the skills in television, this time around my nagging and pushing him has resulted in this epic story for Times of India.

When DNA launched its paper in Mumbai, Times of India wanted to reiterate the paper’s rich and long association with the country, with a brief like that, one would have fallen into dramatizing rich historic events, but Agnello came up with a brilliant observation about news papers, that they bring-in good and bad news with the same emotions. True. Look at the classified columns, you’ll see an obituary ad next to celebrating birth of a child ad. These observations lead Agnello to write story of this newspaper delivering good and bad news to the same family.

Finally it’s all about telling a great story in the simplest manner with a great insight or an observation thrown in. Whether you are writing a novel, short story, feature film or even  a 60 second spot, the rules are the same: set up a conflict and resolve them in an inspiring way.

No wonder we still love homeopathic pills.

“Bollywood the ugly caterpillar.”


Bollywood is going through a metamorphosis, what dominated in sixties was emotional melodramas and patriotic themes to seventies restlessness for social justices lead to the creation of “angry young-man” and eighties saw the emergence of romance  and optimism with new parallel cinema thrown in. Nineties saw the global settings of Bollywood reflecting the success of Indians abroad and Bollywood started setting stories rather than songs abroad. And last decade dominated by Khans and KJo ( Karan Johar) took Bollywood stories to aspirations of living the dreams in an escapist land. Reality took a nose dive, it was all about Indian sentiments set in designer ware.

Thanks to multiplex revolution in urban India, cinema took a serious U turn, powered by younger and more saner breed wanting to take Bollywood out of long hibernation. After Ray’s and Benegal’s and Marchant’s and Jabwalla’s India cinema virtually went into an hibernation till “Lagan” came along.

Today after “Udan” and “Peepli Live” one can say that the ugly caterpillar is morphing into a beautiful butterfly.