Why are you into Advertising?
One strong reason could be that it’s not rocket science.
Because I hated Physics even though I took science stream to please my parents, neighbours and pretty girls who thought arts stream was a waste bin for rejected rouges.
Somewhere I think God silently guides you to where you want to go.
And then coming from a defense back ground, I didn’t want to wear uniforms, bother about haircuts, and salute somebody only because of seniority and rather than out of respect or the persons’ merit.
From the very beginning I knew what I was good at and more importantly, what I was not good at.
Once I even asked my mathematics teacher where we would be using calculus in real life and all she said was, it’s in the syllabus, so just pay attention.
I used to sketch and paint well; I used to write poems from a very young age and was very active on stage as well. So the only place I thought where I could utilize all my talents without sacrificing or compromising on another talent would be advertising.
And I am one of those few lucky people who get paid for having fun with my hobbies.
I eat, drink, make merry and money.
And believe me, it’s been a wonderful journey so far.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I was not fortunate enough to get into an Art College, even though I tried my luck 3 times .
For Chandigarh College of Art. Three years in a row but didn’t get beyond shortlist.
Then I used my writer’s card to get an entry into the world of advertising.
And kept painting to keep the hobby alive.
But then life teaches you so many wonderful lessons, and if you are an honest student, you can excel on your own, and without having a certificate from an institution.
Tell us about your most recent campaign?
The last campaign that I did for McCann was for PSI, Population Services International for EDP (Early Detection Of Pregnancy) which went on air last week.
It’s all about empowering women and giving them the right to live their life on their own terms without compromising on their freedom. It’s about how life can still be in their control even after they miss a chance in life.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
There were not one but many. From Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Bothom, Vivian Richards, Steffi Graff, Martina Navratilova, Amitabh Bachhan, Imran khan, Rajani and Lalitaji(The TV Stars), Alyque Padamsee, Michel Jackson, Mohammad Ali, Maradona, Carl Lewis, Satyajit Ray,Spielberg, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mohanlal, PT Usha to Safdar Hashmi to name a few.
Role models are ones who you look up to and motivate you through their perseverance, performance and personality.
You would not want to be what they are but you love them for their passion and dedication towards their goal.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
I would like to specially mention Raghu Bhat, whom I met in the beginning of my career some 16 years back in Delhi Clarion. He has been a friend, philosopher and guide throughout.
I also worked with Raghu–Manish at McCann, Mumbai.
Then Kaustav Niyogi (Kosty), from McCann Delhi under whom I worked for 2 years,
and of course Prasoon Joshi who is an institution in himself, with whom I worked for 7 years.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes in many forms, from many directions.
Your eyes, your nose, your ears are all receivers. You have to keep them alert every time.
Nature, Culture, Religion, Life, Art, People, Silence, Organism, Space they all inspire me.
Advertising should be a product of everything that you are surrounded with.
A reflection of the society. A projection of insights.
An exaggeration of beautiful thoughts.
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
The best way to nurture and train young talent is to guide them on a daily basis, while you are still working with them.
Because nurturing cannot be a 4 day program. The lessons from a workshop end where they take place if it is not carried back to the cubicles and cabins.
And whoever come to be for any guidance or help, I extend my whole hearted cooperation.
I want to meet them like the good people I met during my struggling days rather than like people who found faults and discouraged me.
Tell us something about the McCann Environment.
Rich and Lively. It was a privilege to work under the leadership of Prasoon Joshi. The environment was always brimming with brilliant ideas with young and energetic team around. Out there, there was a thin line between strategic and creative thinking and everyone worked as a team rather than different departments.
Tell us about your biggest challenge as the Creative Director.
To assemble and build a team that is more like a family.
To motivate them, inspire them, console them and nurture them like a gardener.
To make sure that there is no scope for mediocrity, and not to tolerate indiscipline.
Give the freedom to make mistakes so that what you finally arrive at is a piece of gem.
To decipher a brief and explain it to the team in the most sensible and uncomplicated manner so that they can focus their mind to come up with the right solution rather than getting trapped in the web of jargons.
Then guide them in ideation to execution.
To identify the right spark and then convert it to a bushfire.
Tell us about your 1st job as a Creative Director in advertising.
It’s very tough thing because when you are working on so many brands at the same time , there are no firsts…as they don’t happen in a chronological manner. But I remember my major work as a Creative Director was on Onida, where we decided to bid goodbye to the Devil that was associated with the brand for around 20 years and repositioned the brand.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Of course, they do. Because the jury who decides the awards, are the same people who would have spent their entire life creating big brands and they probably won’t go wrong. They look at the merit of the idea and not just the execution.
In fact it’s the brand that does well in the market win awards.
Obviously, it also varies from awards to awards. There are effectiveness awards, creative awards and media awards. And every award has its own criteria.
I would say a brand doing well in the market by itself is an award.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Advertising is a serious business, and it is great fun if you understand the seriousness involved. It’s a 24/7 job. If you are not addicted, passionate, ready to meet deadlines as if you’re meeting your lover, love working under pressure as if playing angry birds sitting on your pot, if you can’t take rejections in your stride and bounce back, you should stay away.
Not every piece of work you come up with will end up as landmark campaign. Many will go straight to the bins and very few see the light of the day. So, think that every time you fall in love in the day, it might just end up as a one night stand.
So enjoy those few moments before getting dumped.
Learn to enjoy the journey and you will realize that it takes many short journeys before you arrive at the destination.
Would you like to tell us something about your upcoming campaigns?
Right now I’m on a sabbatical. Just finished working on a script for a feature film and it’ll go on floor in September. It’s a romantic comedy
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
I would have liked to take Mother Teresa out for dinner. She would have taught me how much to consume without wasting food while there are lakhs of children going to bed empty stomach every night. A dinner over an enlightening conversation.
But that would be after I have had lunch with Penelope Cruz
What’s on your iPod?
For me music is freedom. And I can enjoy music only if it is mixed with pure air, float in the fragrance of my surroundings, and blend with the ambience before touching my soul. I don’t like it trapped in a wire and getting stuffed into my ears.
My iPod Touch is for my daughter to play games. To keep her away from the imported Chinese cartoon characters.
Mac or PC?
It’s what I do with them makes a Mac or a PC, what they are. Content is king and they are just electronic slaves. I’m happy with either or neither. I need them when I want them.