Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Whose wife was she anyway?

Now comes your way a story from the Mumbai ad world circa the early sixties. I first heard it in 1965 a little after I got my first big-agency break with Clarion-McCann. Clarion was the DJ Keymer spin-off in Kolkata – where the Shantiniketan-trained and world renowned film maker Satyajit Ray had once upon a time worked as an art director. http://www.satyajitray.com/content/about/the_agency.htm. It had joined hands with McCann Erickson worldwide and come to India’s ad capital for the first time. They had a quaint but crowded office in the basement of Advent at Nariman Point. The room I worked in adjoined the privately owned Golwalla Swimming Pool now long demolished. I could hear people diving and splashing in water as I tried to think up ideas for Forhan’s Toothpaste and Poysha. At lunch time, I used to go with a couple of my new colleagues to Coffee Corner at Kala Ghoda where we ate a mean grilled mutton sandwich at Rs.9/- a pop washed down with hot freshly brewed coffee. While we ate, a senior guy would spin yarns about advertising folks. The one I’m about to relate to you is about two inebriated friends who came to blows outside The Taj Mahal Hotel, opposite the Gateway of India, one evening after an advertising meet with cocktails and dinner. One of them was the flamboyant owner of an Indian agency well known in his later life for his fine collection of antique chess sets. His friend, well known for his masterful media planning, worked for one of the two leading multi-national agencies. The argument revolved around the former’s more than friendly interest in the latter’s spouse. The cuckolded husband, as often happens, was the last to know the widely discussed open secret. My informant did not know how exactly the bout ended. A couple of years down the line, the media savvy hard drinker joined Clarion and I had the opportunity to watch him at close quarters. All I can say now is that , by then, the magic had long evaporated. More’s the pity.

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