In the second half of 1992, I was working as an illustrator for The First City magazine in Delhi. Sometimes, when some of the sub-editors were unable to come up with adequate copy, I was called in to help fill the pages with some fiction or interviews. Definitely not a very cool job at all – I was making only 1600 bucks a month.
Akshat Verma (of the Delhi Belly fame), who happened to be one of those sub-editors, harbored the ambition of moving to advertising. And it was he who planted the idea of writing ads in my head. I knocked on quite a few doors and waited many hours in the reception area of many agencies in town until Sanjay Josse, a friend who was working as a junior account executive at Sista’s Pvt. Ltd. (now Saatchi and Saatchi), convinced his creative director, Rajan Rao, to see me.
Rajan called me over for a copy test. Of course, I had no clue of what that was because when he handed me the sheet of paper with the tests, I told him I would take a week to complete that test. I think I heard him laugh loudly as I left his cabin with the sheet of questions.
A week later I was back at Sista’s with a huge paper bag full of hand-drawn and hand-painted ads, direct mailer ideas in 3D, script ideas in finished storyboard form, 3D billboard designs, etc. I think Rajan was overwhelmed by the volume of work because he didn’t offer me a job.
I went back to the illustrator’s desk.
Fortunately, three months later, Rajan called me and asked me if I still wanted to become a copywriter. I grabbed the offer, no questions asked. And I became a trainee copywriter, making 50 bucks more than I was at The First City Magazine.