June 18, 2012

Jalebi No Longer Tastes as Sweet

One of the biggest challenges I face in my daily life as I go about my work is to tip toe on the thin line between plagiarism and inspiration. From my dad over his years of distinguished service, if there is something I have picked up, it is the absolute honesty with which one must do his or her job and then believe “Ma Faleshu....” The Bhagvad Gita has a lot of answers if we seek them well enough.

And thus as it is extremely important for me to create products that absolutely are brilliant, it is also my responsibility to give full freedom to creativity and let brilliance of individuals take over. But I am a scared man. And that’s because the line I mentioned above is absolutely thin. Every single individual who creates an advertisement lives in that constant fear – “Has the idea that has germinated in my mind, already been used in another country, in another product?” I have been fortunate to work with individuals who adhere to this strict sense of propriety and thus have rarely been worried. But even I live in that fear. If there are 6 guys in this world who look exactly the same, it’s not unnatural if 2 people have the same idea. But imagine the fall-out of such a situation.

This year itself there have been 2 movies both dealing with the theme of Snow White in a different setting. Who had the original idea? Did they individually come up with it?

The problem with ideas is essentially that since no longer we work in isolation; even ideas are results of group think. We build on each other’s thoughts to come up with a solution so that the end result can claim no one originator.

Anyway, coming back to the reason why I am going on and on is because of this ad. You all would remember it. One of the most touchingly emotional ads made in India. It might not be a great ad in terms of standard checks we have on an ad, but its greatness lies elsewhere. It stays on with you. You remember the moment. You remember the characters and from a world where there was so less clutter, you remember the Brand.

Now look at this ad – made way before by another great food company.

Where is the line between inspiration, coincidence and a feeling of betrayal? It’s too thin.

June 04, 2012

The Division Bell

“What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where we used to talk?
How shall I fill
The final places?
How should I complete the wall?”

You introduced me to Floyd. To music beyond my North Calcuttan sensibilities, to music that would take me to realms unexplored, that would make me see life in a different way.

“The rain fell slow, down on all the roofs of uncertainty
I thought of you and the years and all the sadness fell away from me
And did you know...”

You introduced me to a new world, a world where life still seemed to be stuck in the seventies and yet the times were so beautiful. I had always loved to write. With you, I wrote what I remember as my first mature article.

“Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun”

What had stood the tests of time suddenly went away in a moment. And having survived it once, I was sure of the unflinching strength of our individual characters which would help us to survive. I could not even fathom the pain you were in and slowly things fell apart.

“It doesn't have to be like this
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking”

But we can’t and I have no one to blame but I believe in eternity, I believe in stories that you once told me and I believe in life as it should have been

“And with these words I can see
Clear through the clouds that covered me
Just give it time then speak my name
Now we can hear ourselves again”

(Floyd on a Sunday is beautiful)