Thursday, January 28, 2010


Is it conviction and heart that inspires great communication or sheer hard nosed professionalism? 4Ps B&M's Monojit Lahiri does a checkout with some eminent creative hot-shots...

It was an idle conversation with eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal that really got this issue into focus. As an evolved, informed and culturally-savvy communicator, Benegal believed that in the area of creative-driven professions (Film, Advertising, Theatre … whatever) there will always be themes, roles, offers, jobs and assignments that may not necessarily viagrise your creative juices – but hey, big deal! It’s a job, remember? So, as a smart, focused and result-oriented Pro, it’s your job to give it your best. The respected Movie Guru insists that “your mandate is to bring your professional skills and expertise to the table and deliver what needs to be delivered in the appropriate fashion. I don’t really see any conflict or soul-destroying problem there – especially in the arena of Advertising, where there is a specific job to do.” Another veteran, Equinox Big Boss Sumantra Ghoshal (Cherry Blossom, Hamara Bajaj) a revered, thinking, Ad Film maker, agrees. He says that it’s impossible to get up close and personal with every brand you work for because the duration is rarely over six weeks. Besides passionate involvement is not the name of the game in most cases. “It is about being sensitive and honest to the brand personality, what it represents and communicates it with the magic and chutzpah at your disposal to the select target group that matters.”

Exec Creative Director (JWT) Anuja Chauhan comes in next. Slamming a huge sixer with her maiden novel The Zoya Factor (picked up by SRK’s Production Red Chillies Entertainment) and responsible for such deathless slogans as Dil Mange More, the petite phataka pushes the Benegal-Ghoshal button, even harder. “I would not fall back on romanticised passion or inspiration as my drivers to approach an assignment. I would go in with an open mind and invest in the job all the truth, sincerity, dedication and creative energy at my disposal. Sure, there are preferences and one is inclined to enjoy working with one particular category more but that’s neither here nor there. For me, professionalism is the key.” Ogilvy’s resident dude Sumanto Chat agrees. “Early on in my career, there may have been roadblocks and some product lines a real pain, but with time I’ve learnt to work it out.” Experience and maturity remains the best teacher, he suggests and a healthy detachment from the brand lends it the required objectivity necessary to give the creative quotient the right spin. “Of course there will always be preferences … for me, the Unilever brands, for example, remain real close to my heart. And luckily, I have a super team to make up for all my deficiencies!”

Pritish Nandy provides the first chord of dissent. “For me, I think its instinctive. If a theme, storyline or an idea doesn’t instantly turn me on, give me a hard-on, excite me – its an immediate no-no! There is no question of cultivating it, making it an acquired taste and soldiering on for this highly, over-rated animal called professionalism! Something, somewhere has to click, pronto. Remember, I am not looking to impress, but move people emotionally to a different plane. That comes from passion not pragmatism; heart not head, mate”. Creative Consultant Sonam Khanna agrees. The San Francisco-based writer believes that “The professionalism bit doesn’t really work where there is a creative calling”. Creativity comes from within and has nothing to do with hard-nosed discipline. I never ever accept any assignment that doesn’t fuse with my basic sensibilities. I know because of my experience and knowledge, I will perhaps be able to deliver – but it clashes with my conscience. It won’t be something I am proud of or honestly given it my all. And I detest the chalta hai, theek hai, client to okay kar diya attitude. For me, I am the judge and jury and unless I am really charged, it’s a polite but firm NO!”

Rediffusion’s Mumbai-based NCD Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar wraps up the debate with his distinctive take. “I think it’s a personal thing. For me, doing stuff for a new category, client or product is hugely exciting because I am playing blind and getting sleepless nights! That’s my big NO! Otherwise, repeating the familiar is comfortable … but God, so boring!”

So, for different folks, different strokes, huh?!