Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Someone tell me what to write here!

So you can see that I can't quite come up with anything to write. CWG is just too boring. And most of the Kalmadi jokes have been done with. Otherwise, life has been pretty nice. Work has been going on well, and I've recently bought a whole new set of books from the book exhibition. I plan to read and finish it all very soon. Now you're already thinking of closing the page :)

I recently attended an office party. It was pretty good - I had a lot of fun. It's good to see the "un-office" part of people once in a while. I got introduced to the whole team, and met some new people who I wouldn't have spoken to, otherwise. We have his grandson in the team as an art director ( I suppose). Poor guy got his leg pulled a lot, and had to put up with a lot of jokes. To be fair, he took it all in his stride (it seemed to me at least).

In other news, the Indian media "Paid news" scandal just got brushed under the carpet. Read P Sainath's article here. The original report had named the culprits, but the PCI decided to modify the report two days before it was to be released (or something of that sort). 

Don't know that paid news is? Some links for thee. Google the rest, and enjoy!

Link 2

The published report is on presstalk.blogspot.com for those who are interested.

Some days, I'm just afraid of what to believe and what not to on TV and in newspapers. I've stopped reading the newspaper all together. I just skim through the headlines and read some stuff online. ToI is just hopeless (more news, but ridiculous reporting), HT has nothing except blue colour and big font, and DNA is well, not for my DNA. I do read the sports and edit page religiously though (even if it is Chetan Bhagat).

Hmm, all that apart, how many of you filled in your mobile numbers for the 'backup security' option that Google asked for? Nice way of accumulating a database for the advertiser network no? Google is very smart. With their sweet talk, they bully the people into doing what they what it wants, and the people don't even realise it. I think Google's monopoly is going too far, and is going to hit back at us one day. Same with Apple. 

Bah, I sound like an old grandpa cooking up conspiracy theories. What about you? How have you been? Tell me your stories, please. I want to know. Comments section open :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Annoyisha" vs "Peepli" of India

First of all, Peepli [live] is simply beautiful. I haven't seen satire so well executed in India, and that too without someone taking offence to it. Drop all your plans for this weekend and go watch it. It's hilariously depressing. Journalists may not particularly like this one, especially the TV journos. Watch out for the take on Deepak Chaurasia. The best part of the film is that the characters are well-sketched. None of them seem to have more or less screen time than necessary, and the plot moves at a consistent pace - never too fast or slow.

Anusha Rizvi has pulled off a stunner of a black comedy. Tt is probably the best film you will get to see in a long time. Upcoming attractions include We Are Family (Karan Johar productions), Action Replay (Vipul Shah, who made Singh is Kinng) and Lafangey Parindey (YRF, with the gorgeous Deepika trying a mawali accent). I just realised that it's got an 'A' certificate for a few cuss words. Thank you censors, for not allowing those below 18 to be aware of the issue, and that too in an entertaining way. Why couldn't you have just censored the cuss words? Like this, you i****s. B******s.

Anyway, I caught Aisha last week, and it was exactly how I thought it would be. Bitchy and annoying. Someone on Twitter had said that Aisha is for girls what Dil Chahta Hai was for boys. To be fair, it is, to a certain extent (girls, please add on if it isn't). The boys in DCH talked more about friendship, love, life, death, and the girls here (Sonam to be precise) talk ONLY about weddings. It's basically an adaptation of Emma, which I now have a good mind to read to find out if the protagonist was as annoying as Sonam. 

The film is basically about Aisha Kapoor, a rich spoilt Delhi girl, who thinks she has been born to make people fall in love and get them married. She supports animal rights, but eats meat. She judges people by the brands they wear, and almost prevents her 'friend' from marrying someone (who obviously loves her) because he's too middle-class for Aisha's taste. In short, it's her business to nose around in other people's affairs and 'help them out'. Well, that's how the character is, and if I hate it so much, I guess Sonam has succeeded to an extent. 

But as compared to DCH (which was also about rich kids, mind you) Aisha comes across as superficial and shallow. The plot progresses shakily and seems like a patchy assortment of scenes. And it is too long. Someone forgot to edit out a song or two. And don't take my word for it. Everyone in the hall was waiting for it to end. When you have the most emotional scene of the movie laughed at by your audience, you know there is something wrong with your film. 

Most of all, Sonam completely butchers her lines. She also has an accent, but rich Delhi girls somehow have them. I swear they do. Weird but true. Debutante Amrita Puri is loveable as the Haryanvi behenji Shefali, and so is Ira Dubey (who sounds just like her mother Lilette, and whom we had spotted at IIT-Chennai). But the life saver of the film is Abhay Deol. Cool as a cat, he walks through the film stylishly and with utmost panache. As most would say, "woh to DUDE hai." Sonam Kapoor gives competition to Miss "My Teeth are for Advertising" during most scenes. Amit Trivedi's music is peppy and nice. Especially the last track. 

On the other hand, I've been reading quite a lot. Here are some books you should read. Yeah, maybe they are old, but I'm sure you haven't read all of them.

The Great Indian Novel: This one by Mr. Shashi Tharoor is a cracker of a novel. It's the story of the great country of India (get it?). Okay, it's basically the Mahabharata set in the context of the Indian independence movement. It's an absolute treat to discover how Mr Tharoor gradually draws parallels between the epic and our own epic struggle for freedom. Forget his Twitter feed, read this one. Especially those of you who liked Raajneeti.

I promise you won't be disappointed. 
Animal's People: An extremely funny take on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The book is a must-read, for its writing style. It is written in the voice of a boy who has been mutilated due to the gas leak, and has been walking on all fours since 'that night'. I know it sounds really depressing, but the book is very funny. I read it during my train travels, and people thought I had gone mad when I used to burst out laughing at short intervals.
It's written by a former copywriter Indra Sinha, whose writing carries the force to move mountains. I still have to get over the cliches. :)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: It's a mystery crime novel based in Sweden. Pretty fast, and nicely written. It also deals with violence against women in Sweden, which was new to me. Sweden is one of the most advanced societies in the world (from what I've heard). Obviously not advanced enough. It's a brilliant read though, and it's a trilogy. See if you can get your hands on a copy, or borrow one from me. 

I've decided to buy a book a month. My dream of owning a library of my favourite books has started materializing 

Image courtesy: Google. I don't own the images.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How I landed my advertising job

Kids, when I...nah! Phew. I finally get the time to write something. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not SO busy that I can't find the time to even eat or sleep. On the contrary, I've quite settled into the new job. A lot of people did ask me this, "How the hell did you land up at an advertising agency? Did you apply? Was there a test of sorts?" So I decided to write about that. Wow. I can't even find a topic to write about a lot :)

I was always inclined towards advertising somehow. I used to watch a lot of old ads, and I watched all the funny commercials in college (which I now realise is the same set of ads circulating in the DC++ networks of the entire country. Even my brother has it). And I had always wondered how it would be, to work in an agency. Plus, journalism was starting to get confusing, since I could not figure out what beat I wanted. And with the print medium dying (slowly but surely), the only option left would have been TV journalism. I need not say anything more. So, through a common friend at JAM, I met a copywriter at DDB Mudra. I showed him my portfolio. A portfolio contains some spec ads (ads of one's own), ideas for some ads etc. And to be fair, my portfolio sucked. But he was really nice, and asked me to work on it some more, and keep bouncing stuff off him. So I did. I had started looking in March, and over the period of 4 months, I kept writing ads, took feedback and rewrote them. It was extremely helpful.

DDB had no openings for freshers, so he gave me some numbers of some other people. So there I went again, showing my work to them. I went to Saatchi & Saatchi and there too, I was told to apply to a bigger agency, since they would have the time and scope to include freshers. From there I landed up a number of a JWT guy, but he was out on a holiday. So I went to Contract Advertising, and then to TapRoot. Somehow it didn't quite work out and I landed up at Mudra.

There I showed my reworked portfolio again, and that was the 'aha' moment for me. He thought I had some good stuff, so that was an encouragement (and some relief that I wasn't on some mad quest). He gave me a copy test (basically a set of advertising problems) to work on and asked me to get back whenever I felt I was done. Also in a single sentence, he explained to me how a campaign was worked out. It's basically one insight/idea, which is extended to all media. So I worked on a campaign and kept it ready. That is where I got really lucky.

For the first time in India, Portfolio Night was held. It's basically a "portfolio review" platform where aspiring juniors get to meet creative directors from different agencies and show them their work. It was 1500 bucks, but was totally worth it. I paid with a friend's credit card, and landed up at Westin, Goregaon, the building where Ogilvy was situated. Juniors got a golden chance to meet the likes of Piyush Pandey, Balki, Prasoon Joshi in person and get valuable feedback. I met some really awesome people, and got good feedback from them, and more importantly, their numbers. I called up one of them (who's now my super, super, super boss) and he passed me on to his team. I showed my work to them, and they asked me to wait for a week to figure out with HR as to how they could fit me in. 

I'd started to panic a little, since everyone was asking for advertising experience and I had none. And if no one took me, I wouldn't have the experience! I even said this at Ogilvy when I met my current creative directors (which probably was a little bold, now that I think of it). I called up the other people I had met, (one of them was again from Ogilvy), so I interviewed at Ogilvy again, but results were delayed. In my panic, I called up my friend from JAM, and she gave me the email ID to a guy from Lowe. I interviewed at Lowe too - correction, I interviewed at Churchgate Hotel, where I was fed biryani and offered alcohol. He liked my work but asked me to wait for a week, since he had to check with HR. The big H had struck.

Suddenly one day, I got a call from Ogilvy (from my current boss) asking me to show her my work. Since I already had some campaigns ready, I first went to Mudra West, and showed him my work. Then I told him about my Portfolio Night experience, and how I had to go to Ogilvy next to show my work. My current boss turned out to be a friend, and he told me to present my ideas to her, and that he would speak to her too. I did, and got a verbal confirmation of my first advertising job. But the "pay" was still to be worked out - you see, in advertising, freshers rarely get paid, and those who do, get paid in laughable proportions.

The family had already started panicking since "I was refusing an MBA offer (from IMT, Nagpur, which I had refused to go to when they had asked me in the interview) and I wasn't going anywhere in particular." Shifting from a job with a pay, to getting paid nothing would have let off a nuclear bomb at home. One was supposed to go the other way (from no pay to some pay). But finally, after all the mandatory HR procedures were done with (which took only a month and a half), I was offered a job. And a one with pay! woot!

My first day was supposed to be July 5, but thanks to the BJP bandh, I went a day late. The HR had no idea I was joining that day (happened to two other people), so after waiting for an hour outside, I landed at the creative floor, still wet from the heavy rain. I spent three whole days filling forms and taking signatures. And my transport problems were solved, since there is a bus which plies from Thane to Goregaon. There are two buses in the evening - one at 6 and one at 8 - for free! So everyday, I sleep in the bus, and shiver in the office, since the AC is on full blast.

I think there should be an extra introductory note for new employees at Ogilvy asking them to buy a jacket. I'm on some pretty cool brands. No, I'm not on Vodafone, Cadbury or Fevicol. I'm on ICC World Cup, The Economist, Future Generali, Lakme and Pond's. So don't be surprised if you find me talking about beauty products :P

EDIT: I just reread this and it reads like I was asked to write a report on how I got my job. Sheesh!