In continuation of the interview with Rekha Nigam, here is the second and concluding part.
4. This must be a difficult one – which project(s) has given you the most satisfaction in terms of creativity & effectiveness? And why?
It’s truly a difficult one. And there are many, most of them away from the spotlight of awards. You have to remember that in the 80’s I worked on several rural campaigns, most of them unknown even to the rest of the agency. A little known pesticide brand called Zolone for which I had to give rural audiences their first lesson in environment-friendly practices, which I did through a puppet show. A long film for Forhans toothpowder in which the hero called ‘Manjan Singh’ did amazing stunts. Ruf and Tuf that became India’s largest denim brand with the line “Ruf and Tuf ho, to Ruf and Tuf pehno.’ The Lakme films created by Chris, but ‘Indianised’ by a ghazal that I wrote as the Hindi version of the Billy Joel track, ‘Na samjoo na janoo, paheli si who ban jaaye.’ The Bank of America ‘Shubh Laabh’ campaign. A little-known campaign for Sakura watches. Of course the Salaam Bombay campaign. A cassette of Gujarati folk music that I created as a corporate gift for Gujarat Ambuja, which went on to win the Ad Club award next year. Too many to enumerate, really. I just put in so much of myself in all the work, it’s difficult to single out anything.
5. You are still actively involved in advertising. What changes do you see in the advertising business today as compared to say, 2 decades ago? What’s good? And what can be improved?
Yes I still do some campaigns like the “Jiyo Befikar’ campaign for Bajaj Allianz, or the Adani ‘main ik chirag hoon’ campaign. I am sorry to say this, but I find a great paucity of talent and passion. Also like I have mentioned elsewhere, the people who are truly interested in other people are rare in advertising. Maybe the best creative talent has gone to feature films or Radio. I don’t know. I believe that the Advertising industry should get together and organize a talent hunt in small towns. Further, I don’t see true creative directors, the kind who’d nurture fledgling talent. Or teach the craft to younger writers.
6. How do you personally keep with new trends in technology – social networking etc., that have an impact on brand communication today?
Maybe I am repeating myself, but if you are interested in people, you will automatically gravitate towards anything that people are interested in. I make friends easily, and love to listen to people. From a ‘kaamwaali bai’, to a delinquent teenager I want to know everything that makes them tick, that gets their blood singing. Like everyone in their 40’s onwards, I am a little wary of new things, I came to Facebook after tens of friends urged me and swamped me with friend requests, but now I can’t live without it. It’s just another ‘adda’ after all! Another area that interests me immensely is the listeners who phone in on radio stations. It’s an amazing experience that can teach anyone in communication a lot about the business.
7. Any contemporary work that you liked/wished you had done?
Oh a lot of work. But mostly in feature films and lyrics.
8. For our readers who are in Account Management, any advice or pearls of wisdom in how to be a great at work?
The message is the same for all, creative or planning, servicing or media. Please get off your Blackberries and handsfree, throw away your Filofaxes, and look at the hundreds of riveting stories, dreams, fantasies, yearnings and longings scattered all around you. Listen to the interesting sales pitch of the hawker and the song of the beggars clacking stones in their hands as musical accompaniment to astonishing voices, tune your hearts to those frequencies and original work will burst forth from your pens.
9. Lastly, tell us about your forthcoming projects in Hindi Cinema?
I am writing a very interesting film about the transformation of a young man for Warner Brothers. For Monsoon Films, I have written a modern telling of Manto’s famous ‘Toba Tek Singh.’ I have written a romantic comedy as a spec script, and am in advanced talks with a young producer. Hopefully all these projects will go on the floors soon. I also have a couple of women-centric movie concepts that are difficult to sell in today’s Bollywood environment. Maybe it’s time to launch another revolution!
Hope you enjoyed reading this little chat with Rekha. Her views on nurturing of talent and seeking inspiration from life around us ring so very true. Do write in with your comments.